Top 11 Hindi Channels Gave Modi-Shah 2.5x More Airtime in April Than Rahul-Priyanka
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Top 11 Hindi Channels Gave Modi-Shah 2.5x More Airtime in April Than Rahul-Priyanka

By The Wire calender  14-May-2019

Top 11 Hindi Channels Gave Modi-Shah 2.5x More Airtime in April Than Rahul-Priyanka

Confirming the growing contention that news channels have broadcast the Bharatiya Janata Party’s campaign more than their opponents in these closely fought general elections, a study of airtime between April 2 and 28 has shown that the party’s two top leaders – Prime Minister Narendra Modi and party president Amit Shah – were given more than 850 hours of airtime by the top 11 Hindi channels.
A report published in Dainik Bhaskar quoting data collected by the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) says, within this nearly one-month period, while Modi was given a total of 722 hours, 25 minutes and 45 seconds by these channels, Shah could get 123 hours, 39 mins and 45 seconds of airtime.
Compared to these BJP leaders, two top leaders of the opposition Congress – party president Rahul Gandhi and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra – could get only 335 hours of airtime from these channels.
BARC data show that while Rahul Gandhi was given 251 hours, 36 minutes and 45 seconds within this period, Priyanka was shown for only for 84 hours, 20 minutes and five seconds.
What is interesting is that while Modi addressed 64 rallies across the country between April 2 and 28, Rahul spoke at 65 rallies within the same time period. Yet Modi managed to get more attention from the top 11 Hindi channels in the country.
BARC’s contention was that Modi was shown more on TV as it helps the channels amp up their TRP ratings.
TV news watchers do agree that Modi gets more attention than any other leader on the telly. For instance, when he did a road show a day before filing his nomination papers from Varanasi on April 25, channels went live for up to three hours. Also, his television interviews were quite long that day. Compared to that, TV reporters’ interactions with Rahul Gandhi during his campaign trail comprised only 25 minutes of airtime.
The recent ‘non-political’ Modi interview conducted by Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar was also telecast by all these channels at the same time. Data show that it could reach 1.7 crore viewers. Although Prasoon Joshi’s interview of Modi in London in April 2018, which also got a lot of airtime from the TV channels, was watched by 2.5 crore people, when it came to the stickiness (watched by viewers for a longer period of time) of the Modi-Akshay conversation, it was much more than that. In terms of impressions, the Modi-Akshay conversation was at 52 lakh, while ‘Bharat ki Baat; by Joshi could mop up only 35 lakh impressions.
BARC data have also shown that the TV channels beamed Modi’s Republic Day speeches for a longer period too. While in 2016, the prime minister’s speech telecast on 137 channels was watched by 11.7 crore people, in 2017, 10.9 crore people watched it on 147 channels. In 2018, his speech aired in real time through 147 channels and could reach 12.1 crore viewers.
Abhinandan Sekhri of Newslaundry opines that the question about who is getting more time seems immaterial, as the channels are anyway not doing what they are supposed to do. He says if we talk about time given on the channels, some aberrations aside, most parties are given equal time. But during this time, the opposition parties are presented in a lopsided manner.
Showing the prime minister also helps these channels earn more revenue. According to BARC data, since last November, the BJP has become the largest advertiser on TV. It has taken over the space of a pan masala brand. Only after the BJP’s TV advertisement budget come that of Netflix and travel site Trivago.

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