With election fever at its zenith, Bengali channels have lined up a series of special programmes to cover the ongoing Assembly elections in West Bengal. This year, the viewers are spoilt for choice with three dedicated Bengali news channels covering the polls extensively, apart from the general entertainment channels, which have special news slots on the polls.
Apart from daily election bulletins, there are debates, exit polls corresponding to the five election dates, talk shows featuring Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharya and leaders of the Opposition parties, court martials as well as panel discussions.
Said Chirantan Chandran, GM, Mindshare, Kolkata, “Earlier, election coverage used to be at a very basic level, but now with the advent of so many news channels and the subsequent competition, creativity in terms of programming has become intensified and the depth and spread of coverage has also increased. Election coverage is being taken to the level of infotainment and viewers are the gainers with so many options and variety.”
STAR Ananda has taken K J Rao, the Election Commission pointman for Bihar elections, and one of the 19 Election Commission observers in West Bengal, to be an in-house expert for their special programme named ‘Lalbarir Lorai’. The term ‘Lalbari’ has been taken from the common parlance for Writers’ Building, the seat for the West Bengal Government.
Another interesting election special is from Kolkata TV – ‘Kolkata Express’ – where the emphasis is on the districts. A team of reporters delves deep into the socio-economic life in the interior regions of West Bengal. The channel has also lined up a chat show with well-known psephologists Yogendra Yadav and Mahesh Rangarajan. The programme, which is anchored by Suman Chattopadhyay, aims to give a clear picture of voting behaviour in West Bengal.
Chobbees Ghanta, another Bengali news channel, have journalists Tarun Ganguly and Ashis Ghosh on their expert panel along with Professors Shivaji Pratim Basu and Sabyasachi Basu Roychowdhury. The channel has also lined up celebrities from the field of art and cinema for poll discussions.
According to Raj Datta, Associate Media Director, The Mediaedge, Kolkata, “This time there is an interesting edge to the election programmes. Earlier, there used to be banners, posters and graffiti on the walls. But this year, with a ban on all such activities, print and television are the two mediums for poll communication. The channels are doing well in terms of coverage and advertisement revenue.”
With Kolkata going to polls on April 27, election coverage has reached its peak at the moment, and this is likely to continue till May 11, the scheduled date for declaration of results.