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AK scores over NaMo on prime time TV news, RaGa in oblivion

MUMBAI: If bad publicity is good publicity, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) founder Arvind Kejriwal will be the happiest man. After all, he has scored over BJP (Bhartiya Janta Party) prime minister hopeful Narendra Modi, securing the highest coverage in TV news during primetime (8-10 pm).

CMS Media LabA preliminary study by CMS Media Lab for the period 1-15 March also reveals that Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Gandhi family, got one-sixth of the time that Kejriwal enjoyed.

The study is based on analysis of five news channels – Aaj Tak, ABP News, Zee News, CNN IBN and NDTV 24X7.

While Kejriwal was given 429 minutes or 28.19 per cent of the time, Modi hogged the screen space for 356 minutes (23.98 per cent). That is not to say that India’s television news media has turned to a leader who will rule India after the Lok Sabha election results are announced on 16 May.  The coverage of Kejriwal has been more negative than positive, with the end result that Modi has grabbed the fancy of news journalists.

Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, has received merely 72 minutes or 4.76 per cent of coverage. He was followed by Lalu Prasad Yadav (RJD) who got 46 minutes (3.05 per cent) of media attention, while MNS founder Raj Thackeray was given 33 minutes (2.20 per cent) of primetime.

“Gandhi, despite being a campaign committee chief of the congress party in this election, got only 4.76 per cent of the coverage given to the political leaders. Kejriwal and Modi got six times and five times more coverage respectively compared to what Gandhi got during this election,” the report said.

In a way, the report has demolished the popular myth of 2014 Lok Sabha election that Modi is media and media is Modi.

Leaders' coverage

Meanwhile, when it comes to political parties, BJP has scored over AAP, albeit with a narrow margin. BJP got 369 minutes of TV news coverage, over one-third of the time cornered by the top 10 parties. AAP was at second spot with 345 minutes or 31.37 per cent share, followed by Congress at third with 193 minutes or 17.51 per cent share.

Among the other top 10 parties were SP, MNS, Shiv Sena, RJD, TMC, BSP and DMK.

Political parties' coverage

Strangely, when it comes to subjects/ issues, the TV news coverage was dominated by ‘personality’ followed by ‘Hindutva’. The third most important subject was ‘political party’, while actual issues like development, corruption, public policy and governance took back seat.

“Interestingly, Hindutva is one of the top issues. This was expected after the announcement of Modi as PM candidate,” CMS Media Lab said.

CMS Media Lab has arrived at the figures based on coverage time given to election topics/subjects.

Party and personality are the major focus of the 2014 election coverage in TV news, the report said. Both account for approximately 39% of the total election coverage. “Interestingly, Hindutva is one of the top issues in the coverage of TV news. This was  expected after the announcement of Modi as PM candidate of BJP in 2013 and his possibility of contesting election from Varanasi, a mystical place and symbol of Hindutva, created debate around it.”

Issues and subjects covered in TV News

Positioning India as a development deprived nation, vote for change as a main poll plank made it to the fourth position by devoting 7.89 per cent of coverage time. Series of scams of the UPA government and relentless campaigning against it by opposition parties took the fifth spot (4%). Public policy and governance acquired sixth and seventh positions by getting 3 per cent and 2.5 per cent of coverage time respectively.