Kindly tell me, can watching television, movies & reading newspaper affects one's spiritual progress?
Yes, all forms of the media (movies, too) can have a powerful effect on spiritual progress.
As you know, television and newspapers are filled with plenty of advertising doing its best to draw us further into the material plane. In addition, much of the programming takes us outward as well. Movies can do the same.
That does not mean that there is nothing worthwhile in the newspaper or on television or at the movies. It means that we need to develop our powers of discrimination, and practice self control in our choices of how we spend our time. The question to ask oneself when choosing one of these is, “Will it be uplifting?”
Swami Kriyananda says, “Television is especially pernicious. I myself never watch it. The thought of all those worldly personalities invading my home and my consciousness with their foolish opinions, attitudes, and vibrations: what an absurd distraction! Yogananda referred to television, in fact, as ‘satanic.'”
All of these have the potential to bring our consciousness outward and/or downward. It’s best to limit your use of them and try to find other, more uplifting activities. One very good substitute is to listen to uplifting music. Both Crystal Clarity (America) and Ananda Sangha Publications (India) carry music composed by Swamiji and performed by devotees from Ananda.
Nayaswami Sadhana Devi