For politicians, an election is a loaded game: there is one winner and the rest are losers. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Unless, of course, it is a hung parliament or assembly.
Not so for those in the business of capturing their victories and defeats.
All three of India’s leading English news channels are claiming that they were the channel of choice on results day, March 6, when the verdict of the elections to the five State assemblies, including Uttar Pradesh, came out.
# Times Now* newspaper advertisement: “Times Now reaffirms its undisputed leadership on election counting day.” Citing TAM ratings, it claims fullday viewership of 39% (versus 23% for CNN-IBN and 22% for NDTV), and primetime (7pm to 11 pm) viewership of 48% (versus 18% for CNN-IBN and 20% for NDTV).
# CNN-IBN newspaper advertisement: “Elections = CNN-IBN & IBN7. India’s best team = India’s best results. CNN-IBN, IBN7 and The Week post-poll conducted by CSDS gets the projections right again.” On air, CNN-IBN says it was the most watched of the channels.
# NDTV 24×7 newspaper advertisment: “Who won the election without any shouting and screaming? NDTV24x7 had more viewers than all other news channels COMBINED.” Using an opinion poll by GfK-Mode in 11 cities (sample size 5,000), NDTV claims it had 51% viewership compared with CNN-IBN’s 19%, Times Now’s 15% and Headlines Today’s 10%.
* Disclosures apply
Also read: Times Now. Times Now. Times Now.
Which is why Times Now didn’t do an exit poll
Stories of newspapers running blank editorials and news columns during the censorship era of the Emergency in the mid-1970s are legion.
But in this day and age, when space is calculated in square centimetres?
Star of Mysore, the 35-year-old evening newspaper from Mysore, ran this front-page on March 3 to protest the murderous assault on journalists by lawyers in Bangalore.
A front-page editorial noted grimly:
“The Fourth Estate is the new target.
“In the new resurgent India, the media has played its role in exposing the wrongs done to this nation by its own people and has given voice to the weak. The Press, the fourth pillar of democracy, has so far kept check on the three other powerful pillars—the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary—and has done so in the interest of keeping the citizenry of this nation informed and to get it involved in national issues.
“This success of the media in getting people involved in issues that concern the nation is what has made the other three pillars uncomfortable…. A media that helps create awareness among the citizenry making it pro-active is not in the interest of the powerful in the other three pillars of democracy. And so, on March 2, while a certain section of lawers went on a thrshing spree on media persons, the police stood like helpless bystanders.”
Image: courtesy Star of Mysore
Also read: A blank editorial, a black editorial and a footnote
A song for an unsung hero: C.P. Chinnappa