Get set for India’s Biggest Media Event

06 Mar,2014



By A Correspondent


If you think some of the front page editors were at their creative best while designing the Page 1s of their newspapers, you’re possibly right. It’s General Election time. And we’ve just had the announcement.


The elections to the Lok Sabha will be the biggest ever. But that’s a no-brainer. Every election is bigger than the previous one. But this time the stakes are higher.Much, much higher.


But what’s changing the landscape in 2014 is a variety of things:

1. 10 years of the same government. Loads of inefficiencies and cases of corruption being reported. New-found life in the BJP with Narendra Modi and the Arvind Kejriwal/AAP phenomenon


2. A hyperactive television media. More than 150 superactive and successful news channels


3. A more mature print media, but given the pressures from television, willing to get creative and take risks


4. Social Media… Facebook and Twitter. It’s not just the traditional media that politicians need to reach out to, but it’s also influentials on Twitter and Facebook


5. Direct access to the public. The social media affords. Mamata Banerjee was delighted to meet her Facebook friends last evening, many others reach out to their world via Twitter


Various media agency chiefs have estimated elections-related spends. According to some estimates the promotional spends – on traditional and non-traditional media – will be in the region of Rs 7,500 crore.


The number we think could even exceed that given that individual candidates will do their own independent campaigning and spends which can escape the Election Commission’s eyes.


Meanwhile, the Election Commission press release has some very clear notings on media engagement. Here they go:

1. Commission has always found media as an important ally in election management. Hence, in conduct of Lok Sabha election, an efficient structure for information dissemination to media has been created at the  Commission, State  and District levels. Commission will ensure timely and due access to election  related data and information by media. Authority Letters will be issued to all accredited Media for the polling day and the day of counting. Commission expects the media to play a positive and proactive role in supplementing election  management in delivery of a free, fair, transparent, peaceful and participative election.


2. At the same time, Commission has created District and State level Media Certification and Monitoring Committees (MCMCs) to deal with the problem of Paid News and other media related violations, besides carrying out the existing provisions of pre-certification of political advertisements. Such mechanism will be at work for the first time in a Lok Sabha General election. Again, for the first time, the use of social media for election campaigning has been subjected to similar  conditions, as that applies to use of other electronic media.


In Mumbai there have already been concerns over what appears to be a case of paid news. We can be sure that there will be many such cases and while the EC’s decision to set up MCMCs is welcome, one can’t be sure how effective they will be as most transactions on paid news is done via cash or indirect transactions.


Be that as it may, the nine-phase elections and the frenzy before that which will culminate with the results on May 16 and the government formation therafter is boomtime for the media. There will be a fair amount of revenue coming in and there will be a fair amount of spends on content operations and newsgathering.


Enjoy the heat.


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