Shailesh Kapoor: News Channels on May 16: Never A Dull Moment

19 May,2014

Shailesh Kapoor

Shailesh Kapoor


Most news channels started broadcasting live on May 16 at 6am. The first results started coming in by 8am. And by 9.30am, it was all over bar the shouting. By 10am, it was certain that not only with NDA form a stable, majority government, BJP alone would cross the coveted 272-mark. By this time, some anchors were already wishing their guests ‘Good Afternoon’, well before 11am. Clearly, it happened way too fast for everyone.


Since 1989, all General Election results have been marked by fractured verdicts in some form or the other. Hence, till leads begin to solidify, it is difficult to be sure of the verdict itself; let alone who the next Prime Minister will be. This time, it was all decided, and the focus of the coverage thereafter shifted to BJP celebrations, Modi speeches and state-wise analysis of the incredible Congress rout.


Indeed, it was a Results Day like like no other. Here are some nuggets that caught my attention:


:: Did Rajedeep Sardesai actually say the “Congress has f*&#ed up” on-air? The footage is not to be found anywhere on the net, but Twitter was indeed abuzz with the rather entertaining slip-of-the-tongue by the seasoned anchor.


:: What’s with Arnab Goswami promoting 6am as the time for #May16WithArnab, but appearing on-air only at 7am, leaving it to his pupils to anchor a no-content hour? Arnab’s loyal fans, who woke up at 5.45am to watch him, want their money back!


:: Did you notice those animated figures of Modi, Rahul and other party heads on Aaj Tak and Headlines Today? They also ran a three-minute parody called ‘Mitron main toh PM ban gaya’ (Watch here) under their well-cultivated humor brand ‘So Sorry’. Nice touch!


:: I get the NDTV legacy of elections coverage, but it’s time to get rid of a static vinyl backdrop with hazy snapshots from across the country, variants of which they have been using in all their election results shows in the recent years!


:: Also, did anyone toggle between NDTV and Times Now? I did, and counted number of words spoken per minute on each channel on an average. The ratio was a staggering 1:4 (which incidentally is also the ratio of their viewership in most weeks these days)!


:: Anuradha Prasad ads in the run-up to May 16 surprised me. News 24 has never been a serious player, and here she was, promoting her May 16 show on radio and even other news channels, such as Times Now!


:: Chanakya, the Delhi-based pollster, called their second elections right after the Delhi Assembly elections last year. News 24, coincidentally, were their on-air partners, and the channel was promoting its achievement on May 17-18 via radio ads. It was good to see Arnab Goswami congratulating Chanakya on-air, more than once, even as other exit polls, run by bigger agencies, got it all wrong, like most other times.


:: On May 16, I learnt that there are three types of leads that can be reported – speculative leads, unofficial leads and official leads. Official leads were those available on the Election Commission website. Unofficial leads were those available on the ground via counting center information. I am still trying to figure out what speculative leads mean. At a time when most channels had information on 200-250 seats (official and unofficial), NDTV has information on 500+. Mystery still unsolved, at least for me!


:: As someone on Twitter rightly pointed out, we heard Modi speak more words on May 16 than we have heard Manmohan Singh speak over ten years put together. Don’t know about the country, but the media must be rejoicing the election of an articulate, media-savvy Prime Minister. ‘Achhe din’ are here for TV channels!


TV Trails is a weekly column written by Shailesh Kapoor, founder and CEO of media insights firm Ormax Media. He spent nine years in the television industry before turning entrepreneur. The views expressed here are his own. He can be reached at his Twitter handle @shaileshkapoor

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