Global news player BBC, too, has earmarked special initiatives to ride the elections wave in India. The BBC has commissioned an ‘India Election Train’, a multiplatform, multilingual initiative that attempts to deliver to international audiences a diverse range of news from across India during the run-up to the country’s General Elections in April-May. From April 25, 2009 until May 13, 2009, reporters from the BBC’s Global News division will travel through India by train, investigating what Indians want from their General Election and the key themes surrounding it.
On board the train will be reporters from BBC World Service English, BBC Hindi, BBC Urdu, BBC Tamil, BBC Bengali, BBC Somali, BBC Swahili, BBC World News television, Arabic TV, Persian TV and BBC.Com/news. The journalists will broadcast stories to the world, across radio, TV, online and on mobile.
Nazes Afroz, Executive Editor, South Asia - BBC World Service, elaborated further on how the BBC intends to differentiate its elections coverage from the local news media. Afroz explained, “We never have nor plan to compete with domestic news channels. Indian Elections is an important global news event as the world is seeking insights into intriguing areas like why is India still recording a growth when most of the world has slipped into recession.”
Speaking further on why BBC has included most of its media vehicles for this project, Afroz said, “For projects of the size, the BBC favours this type of collaborative approach, which enables different reporting teams to share resources and pool material. Our idea is to look at India more broadly and report on its fascinating divergent political process as well as its economy. India is an important market for the BBC and we aim to cover it in the most comprehensive way.”
The BBC plans to create awareness about the perspective that BBC World News would bring to its audiences around the Indian Elections. “We will share details soon on how we plan to engage and interact with audiences. Besides the TV, the BBC has a huge audience base in India on the radio platform. Our broadcasts in Hindi, Bengali, Urdu and Tamil will cater to that audience,” Afroz added.
The BBC is expecting this initiative to further boost its viewership. Giving a perspective on this, Afroz said, “We are confident that significant audiences in India and around the world will be accessing BBC World News, BBC World Service and BBC.Com/India for our unique global perspective on the Indian Elections. Ours is a unique multimedia, multilingual proposition, which, in addition to providing international audiences with information about India’s elections, will offer domestic audiences the views of experts and Indian Diaspora across the globe.”
The BBC has worked with the Indian Railways to design a timetable for the project, and the train will travel along the following route: Delhi-Ahmedabad-Mumbai-Hyderabad-Bhubaneswar-Kolkata-Patna-Allahabad-Delhi.
In a prepared statement, Richard Sambrook, Director, BBC Global News, said, “The BBC’s approach to covering the India Elections is unique and representative of the breadth and depth of its newsgathering facility. Multiplatform and multilingual, the BBC India Election Train will provide audiences in India and around the world with an in-depth view of the election and the key themes and issues surrounding it.”