Poll Programming: News channels line up special shows

While some states have locked their choices in the EVMs, & some will vote for their next government on December 7, news channels line up special shows ahead of polls & general elections next year

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Dec 5, 2018 8:59 AM  | 6 min read

The Election season in the country is just around the corner. Five states including Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Mizoram and Telangana will vote for a new government this month, and this will be followed by general elections next year. The BJP and the Congress are in direct fight in the states of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. In the states of Mizoram and Telangana a multi-cornered fight is expected. No wonder then news channels are having a field day, showing all possible details and debates on the political scene. With an aim to attract maximum viewers, most of the channels have lined up special election shows.

According to the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India, the state elections in India hold special importance in the national politics affecting all major political parties. Broadcasters aim to cover it as it is a scheduled event and has lot of eagerness among viewers. “We will analyse this event in depth as we have previously seen that state elections have consistently led to viewership spikes,” said a BARC representative. 

The news genre contributes 8 per cent to the total TV viewership. It was the third biggest genre on television in terms of viewership in 2017, as per BARC India data. In the past state elections in Kerala, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and UP (state elections from 2016 and 2017) - the growth was highest for Kerala on the result day as compared to the pre-election days, and the least in UP.

According to the data, interestingly, the importance of Election Day and Result Day varies across markets. The difference in viewership for pre-election weeks and Election Day was the maximum for TN/ Pondicherry, indicating the importance and impact of the poll-day for this market, while the other markets were predominantly result-oriented.

In 2017, the Gujarat assembly elections saw a huge interest from viewers. On the day of the counting, the Hindi news genre grew by 130 per cent, while the English news saw a growth of 272 per cent (as per the BARC data). This clearly shows the interest of viewers in news, especially during elections. During the recently held Karnataka elections, Hindi news viewership increased by 25-30 per cent in that week (as per BARC data) despite the regional nature of the news. And so, expecting a similar surge in viewership during the upcoming elections won’t be wrong. 

News18 India has launched a slew of new shows and has ramped up its existing ones. For instance, two of the most popular shows on News18 India, ‘Lapete Mien Netaji’ and ‘Bhaiyaji Kahin’ are travelling to Rajasthan and MP.

Speaking about the programming on elections, Priyanka Kaul, President – Marketing & Special Projects, Network 18, said, “Elections clearly drive a strong spike in viewership of news channels. In a democratic polity such as ours, people at large retain a key interest in politics.”

She further said, “As a network, we have always prided ourselves in our coverage of elections. Over the years, we have developed a reputation of being the most accurate and the first to call elections. Given our national and regional reach, we have the ability to not only track key stories across the length and breadth of the country but also evaluate the likely impact of the same. In terms of our brand strategy, we have always believed that there is no real alternative to Network18 when it comes to elections and hence we centre much of our promotion on the thought of elections.”

Similarly, with Mandate 2019, Times Now has been claiming to be at the forefront of tracking the assembly elections in five states. Through engaging properties, Times Now promises to make the election coverage more exciting and captivating for its viewers. The channel also has programmes such as Pre-Poll Surveys (aired every Thursday from 6 pm to 8 pm) which broadcast a set of opinion polls through its association with CNX Media for an in-depth analysis of data on voting, public opinion, and political participation. Inside: A weekend magazine show at 11:30 am brings viewers close to the heat and hustle of the elections with the candidates in the fray dwelling in detail about the issues in each of the five states. Also, there is ‘Contest: A weekend debate show’ anchored by Rahul Shivshankar. Some other poll shows of the channel are ‘Frankly Speaking’ with Navika Kumar and ‘India Upfront’ and ‘Exit Poll’.

Mirror Now too is geared to present extensive ground reports from the polling states. According to the channel, its reportage will focus on people’s issues such as aspirations of the youth vis-à-vis jobs, a deep-dive into the agrarian distress in these states, a status check on the implementation of welfare schemes, access to healthcare, urban infrastructure, civic woes, and women’s safety.

Talking about ABP News’ election coverage plan, Avinash Pandey, COO, ABP News Network, shared, “Desh Ka Mood, the leading election programme of ABP News, released the survey results on November 2. Done by CVoter, the timeline of the survey was October 2018 with over 15463 respondents spread pan India. All the channels under the network are doing election coverage, starting from monthly poll. Regional channels broadly do daily election coverage around 5pm and 8pm every day.”

Taking the highest election recall programme of ABP News- ‘Kaun Banega Mukhyamantri’ forward, the network launched ‘Siyasat Ka Sensex’. The one- hour show is hosted by anchor Neha Pant from Monday-Friday between 8pm and 9pm. The show will aim at giving viewers opinion poll data of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan during the upcoming elections. “Siyasat Ka Sensex is like a daily poll in these states,” said Pandey.

Aaj Tak, meanwhile, plans to have a show, Panchayat, in three states each along with opinion polls. The channel also aired ‘Chunavi Dangal’, a weekly discussion show which was aired from September 8 to November 24. Show ‘Raj Tilak’ is all about ground report of almost all election issues through packages, conversation with voter and local leaders.

According to the channel, the purpose of the programme is to show what people expect from the political parties. ‘MP Ajab Hai’ and ‘Rajasthan on Wheels’ are among the other election special shows on the news channel.

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