Even as the entire nation, and the world, watched in horror at the terror attacks in Mumbai, the Assembly elections taking place in five states have all but gone out of everyone’s focus, including the media’s. All TV channels have devoted air time exclusively to the horrific tragedy unfolding in India’s financial capital, so much so that the passing away of former Prime Minister VP Singh, too, got lost amid the gunshots.
With Delhi gearing up for elections, what would normally have been high decibel coverage on various TV channels, have been watered down to brief mentions in between the non-stop coverage of the attacks in Mumbai. Most of the channels are uncertain about their plans and strategy on the election coverage with this sudden turn of events. exchange4media exclusively spoke with some channel heads about their election coverage plans ahead in light of the rapidly changing scenario.
Focus diverted from Delhi election coverage
Speaking on whether the terror attacks in Mumbai had changed the plans and strategy for election coverage, Sameer Kapoor, CEO, NDTV India, said, “We have not really had any time or chance to sit down and decide on this. But all the focus since last night (November 26) has been on the Mumbai terror attacks, and it is likely that it would dominate news only for today and tomorrow.”
Sudhir Chaudhary, CEO, Live India, said, “The Mumbai attack was so sudden that for now we have moved all our sources and resources from election coverage to Mumbai. We want to understand the reactions of the people. This incident has surely reduced the public interest in the elections. Rescheduling of political parties and leaders has also also happening since yesterday. Also, the news channels’ viewership has increased in the last couple of hours.”
Ashutosh, Managing Editor, IBN7, had a different view on this. He said, “There will be no drastic change in the election coverage plans. Today, our focus will remain on Mumbai, but will shift back to elections once things settle down in Mumbai.”
A senior Zee news official, too, said, “What happened in Mumbai is a national tragedy and for a day or two this will affect the election coverage, but as things mellow down, we will resume to the election coverage.”
Sanjay Bragta, Executive Producer, Sahara Samay, added, “We are a huge company and have a dedicated and big team in Mumbai to cover the devastation that has happened there. There will be no change in the programmes or strategy for the election coverage at Sahara.”
Ad rates hiked during the election coverage
On whether NDTV had hiked ad rates for the duration of the election coverage, Sameer Kapoor said, “Election coverage is our forte, and at NDTV, we have marginally increased our ad rates for this period of election coverage.”
Sudhir added, “Channels have got good business from the political parties. We have marginally increased the ad rates as we do not have enough inventories to offer them, and political parties are demanding more and more space.”
“These has been no change or hike in the ad rates at Sahara Samay. We have set parameters for air time,” said Bragta.
IBN7’s Ashutosh said that the channel had not effected any hike in ad rates.