In a week from now, we’ll know who’ll form the new government in New Delhi, or possibly we won’t, given mixed indicators of how each party will fare and early trends of a hung Parliament. But we can definitely say who’s scored high in the coverage of the elections. Since I haven’t tracked the non-English papers and among the English newspapers, I’ve only scanned Mumbai papers, it would be unfair to comment on print. I’ll restrict myself to news television, and here’s my list of ‘winners’ of excellence in election news kind-of reflect the ratings numbers thrown up by TAM. Note, it’s all my own work, but done after hours of telly-watching. And yes, only the national English and Hindi channels.
Channel #1 - English: Times Now wins hands down. Despite the super combination of Prannoy Roy and Dorab Sopariwala, NDTV 24x7 comes third in my list, as CNN-IBN inches ahead at second place.
Channel #1 – Hindi: Aaj Tak. Though it isn’t as much of a clear favourite as Times Now is among the English channels. Also, Star News and India TV, too, did fairly well. While both Aaj Tak and Star News aired their election specials, it was India TV that I would switch to often hoping to catch some breakthrough programming.
Anchor #1 – English: Arnab Goswami. I don’t want my news anchor to be the nice guy and shy away from asking the tough questions and Arnab is super at it. I quite liked Barkha Dutt, too, on her nightly show on NDTV, but Arnab’s shows had the masala. And Rajdeep? He’s good and solid, but regrettably there can be only one #1, right?
Anchor #1 – Hindi: I don’t have a clear choice here, though I like the stalwarts Vinod Dua and Rajat Sharma on NDTV and India TV, respectively, and an Ajay Kumar on Aaj Tak. I haven’t seen enough of the other channels to make a comment, but often turn to an NDTV India to catch old favourites Abhigyan Prakash, Pankaj Pachauri and Nidhi Kulpati or a Star News to see what new things Deepak Chaurasia is up to.
Expert #1: Dorab Sopariwala: There’s Mahesh Rangarajan on Times Now who is good, but Sopariwala is my #1 psephologist. He knows it all, and after all these years has a sharp political mind.
Evergreen #1: Prannoy Roy: This is the Mixed Media version of the lifetime achievement award. Dr Roy is decidedly the best of the old warhorses, and perhaps the main reason why I’ll watch the results live on NDTV 24x7 on Saturday.
Reporting Team #1: CNN-IBN. A great set of reporters – on-the-ball and aggressive. Times Now has a smart sense of reporters, but the experience on the field possibly helps CNN-IBN put up a better show. And NDTV 24x7? My feeling is that some of them were more worried about the uncertainties back at work…
There are several losers in the business – losers because they didn’t cash in on an excellent opportunity to showcase their editorial prowess. NewsX, for instance, is right at the bottom of the English channels. The exit announcement of newsroom head Arup Ghosh bang in the middle of the elections process didn’t help the channel very much. I am told they are rehauling the set-up, but Messrs Vinay Chhajlani and Jehangir Pocha need to do that super-quick if they want NewsX to be in the race. In the Hindi space, too, there are several contenders at the bottom of the TAM ratings roster, but since I don’t watch them (my cable operator has stopped piping them to me), I’ll avoid commenting on them.
One of the biggest losers is Doordarshan News. It was never in the reckoning the moment the private channels came on air, but in these elections, it’s down and virtually out. While being government-owned ties down news producers hugely, a few quality anchors and guests could’ve done the trick and see it give at least the lesser channels a run for their money.
(The views expressed here are my own. Disagree with my choice of #1s? Email firstname.lastname@example.org).