This election, you’d have seen Modi more frequently on your TV than Rahul Gandhi
BARC contends that much of Modi’s coverage is because it actually helps TV channels increase their TRP ratings. Yeah, right!
If you turned on your TV to see a familiar face and hear a nasal-twang ‘mitron’, don’t be surprised. Prime Narendra Modi received about three times more TV airtime than Congress President Rahul Gandhi from April 1st to April 28th, data from television viewership monitoring agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) revealed.
Quoting the BARC data, a Dainik Bhaskar report said that during this one month, Modi was given a total of 722 hours, 25 minutes and 45 seconds by the top 11 Hindi channels. During the same period, Rahul Gandhi received a total of 251 hours, 36 minutes and 45 seconds of coverage.
But you know what’s interesting? Rahul Gandhi managed one more rally than the 64 of them pulled off by PM Modi, across the country in April. And yet, there was three times the difference in their speeches covered by the Hindi news channels.
Similarly, BJP president Amit Shah got 123 hours, 39 minutes and 45 seconds of airtime as compared to 84 hours, 20 minutes and five seconds for Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati was shown by TV news channels for about 85 hours.
What does the law say?
The Election Commission passed an order in 1998 over the allotment of broadcast times to political parties during elections. And according to that—and as mentioned in this 223-page media guidelines report (see page 177)—ten hours of telecasting/ broadcasting time is to be reserved over the national channel of DD/ AIR for the national parties.
And according to this scheme, which is extended to the 2019 General Elections, 45 minutes will be allotted to seven political parties, for a total of five hours and fifteen minutes of airtime.
The remaining four hours and forty five minutes of telecasting/ broadcasting time shall be further divided among the seven national parties, according to the percentage of votes polled by each party (in this case, the 2014 General elections).
Ethics will guide you home
Yes, I know. This regulation exists only for state-sponsored DD and AIR. But a news channel, whether public or private, should endeavour to inform the public in an objective manner, about appropriate electoral matters, political parties, candidates, and voting processes.
This isn’t just my opinion. This is a joint guideline issued by the Election Commission and the Press Council of India.
Also, they shouldn’t indulge in unhealthy election campaigns, exaggerated reports about any candidate/party or incident during the elections. And hey, did I forget to mention: the news channels should disclose any political affiliations, either towards a party or candidate.
The other side of the story
BARC contends that much of Modi’s coverage is because it actually helps TV channels increase their TRP ratings.
Think about it: when Prime Minister Narendra Modi went on a road show a day before filing his nomination papers from Varanasi on April 25th, TV channels went live for up to three hours. Also, his television interviews were quite long, that day.
And when Rahul Gandhi interacted with television reporters during his campaign trail, he got only 25 minutes of airtime.
In other news, the BJP spent a maximum 32 per cent of the total political advertisements, expended on Google. From February 19th to April 4th this year, the saffron party spent a total of Rs 1.5 crore out of the total Rs 3.76 crore allotted to advertisements on Google.