A recent analysis by CMS Media Labs on TV news coverage of the 2014 General Election suggests that BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi got 7.5 times (750 per cent) TV coverage compared to the Congress candidate, Rahul Gandhi.
The coverage of TV news indicated that the critical mass of conversation was towards Narendra Modi, making this election one 'of Modi, by Modi and for Modi'. The analysis adds that the election coverage of leaders hardly reflected the ground realities and ignored many states of the country.
Modi got three times more coverage compared to Kejriwal, his competitor in Varanasi. Rahul Gandhi, despite being a key campaigner of the Congress in this election, got only 4.33 per cent of the total coverage given to the political leaders. The emergence of Priyanka Gandhi's attack on Modi got 2 per cent of the coverage. PM Manmohan Singh and Mulayam Singh got equal coverage. Manmohan caught attention in the coverage due to the explosion of book bombs by ex-bureaucrats during poll season; and Mulayam for his archaic speech on rape and women.
Among the regional leaders, Raj Thackerey and Mamata Banerjee got less than 1.5 per cent of the coverage on personalities. Interestingly, Modi's man Amit Shah was amongst the top 10 leaders due to his hate speech.
The analysis further reveals that amongst political parties, the BJP grabbed the first position in election coverage of TV news by acquiring 38 per cent of the total coverage. It received 10 per cent more coverage time as compared to the Congress, which was at the second position, acquiring 27.75 per cent of the coverage time. AAP was at the third position, grabbing 18.7 per cent.
Among regional parties, Samajwadi Party got about 4.5 per cent of the coverage time. Shiv Sena, BSP, MNS, CPI(M) got coverage between 1 to 2 per cent, while rest of the regional parties including TMC and JDU received less than 1 per cent of the total coverage time given to parties.
The top 10 parties that occupied the air time are BJP (1507 minutes), Congress (1101 minutes), Aam Aadmi Party (742 minutes), Samajwadi Party (176 minutes), Shiv Sena (72 minutes), Bahujan Samaj Party (57 minutes), Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (41 minutes), Communist Party of India (Marxist) (41 minutes), Trinamool Congress (38 minutes) and Janata Dal (United) (24 minutes).
Prabhakar Kumar, head, CMS Media Lab, says, "It is tragedy and travesty of the country that this election seems to be only for Modi. This is the first highly personalised and televised election in the history of India. The experiment of the personalised and televised campaign was started by late PV Narasimha Rao during his stint as PM of India. This campaign strategy was also used by the NDA government during 'India Shining' campaign. Both campaigns bombed for the respective parties."
The top 10 subjects that occupied the air time include Personality (7753 minutes), Party (3966 minutes), Satire/Comic Programmes (908 minutes), Corruption (749 minutes), Election Commission (508 minutes), Opinion Polls/Exit Polls (478 minutes), Public Policy (474 minutes), Governance (421 minutes), Development (417 minutes) and Local/Regional Issues (338 minutes).
The analysis further mentions that personalities and parties were the major focus areas of the 2014 election coverage in TV news. Both accounted for more than half (57 per cent) of the total election coverage. Spoof/comedy programmes figured third in the top ten issues.
The series of scams of the UPA government, and relentless campaigning against it by opposition parties, prominently by Kejriwal and Modi, made it at the fourth position (4 per cent) in terms of coverage. Election Commission (2.47 per cent) and opinion polls (2.32) got fifth and sixth positions, respectively. Public policy (2.32 per cent) and governance (2.05 per cent) acquired seventh and eighth positions in the coverage, respectively. Development and local issues were at the bottom of the top 10 issues.
The CMS Media Lab analysis is based on 61 days of coverage from March 1 to April 30, 2014, of five prominent television news channels. Channels included in the analysis are: Aaj Tak, ABP News, Zee News, NDTV 24x7 and CNN IBN. Findings are based on prime time coverage (8-10 pm) of these five TV news channels.
The analysis is based on detailed content analysis of election coverage on these TV news channels. Figures are based on the coverage time given to election topics/subjects. The time devoted on parties and leaders are calculated on the basis of subjects/topics of the coverage during discussion and reporting.