When assembly elections are held in the second-most populous state in the country, which contributes more than twenty per cent to India's industrial output and thirteen per cent to its gross domestic product (GDP),
the importance and significance of the polls in the region cannot be overruled.
Maharashtrians will elect their new government in October this year, and though national news channels will devote time to the assembly elections, it is the regional news and entertainment channels, who are going whole hog to make the best of this initiative.
Rivals ETV Marathi (part of the ETV network of channels) and Alpha Marathi (part of the ZEE bouquet of channels) have begun telecast of special election-based programmes to capitalise on the growing interest among viewers in the upcoming polls.
ETV, for one, has a mix of ground events and regular shows for the Assembly Elections. Says Sanjay Dabre, head of programming, ETV Marathi, "Elections are about the people exercising their right to vote, about issues, good governance, politicians and so on. Hence an involvement of the people at the ground level is a must."
On the channel's priority list is a road show titled Chanda Te Banda, which will kick-off on August 24, and will cover the length and breadth of Maharashtra, attempting to take stock of the situation in different regions, getting the opinion of people in those areas, apart from doing a performance appraisal of local politicians.
Parallely, the channel has begun a hunt for the Yuva Maha Neta and the Maha Neta of the state, with entry into the former via a 250-word essay on 'What if I were the CM?'
A panel of jurors will select the best one hundred write-ups and will invite the writers to make presentations based on their essays. "From the 100 presentations made," says Dabre, "Twenty-five will be shortlisted, who will be invited to Mumbai to make presentations in front of a high-powered jury comprising two ex-chief ministers. From this lot the winner will be selected."
Alongside, Mantryanche Pragatipustak (Minister's Progress Report) and a one-hour talk show titled Dhobi Pachchad are some of the other initiatives on ETV Marathi.
For Alpha Marathi the emphasis is clearly on news, and since July the channel has launched one-hour weekend bulletins (instead of the conventional half-hour bulletins) with capsules dedicated to the upcoming polls.
This strategy, says Nitin Vaidya, business head, Alpha Marathi, is linked to the overall consumption of news in the state, which is pretty high. "People in Maharashtra and West Bengal spend more time on news bulletins, which is why the emphasis on news," he says.
Panchnama and Muluk Maidan are two interesting capsules within the news bulletins, the former focusing on key constituencies in the state, while the latter looking at the seven revenue regions in Maharashtra including Konkan, north and south Maharashtra, Vidarbha, Marathwada, Mumbai and Pune.
On the cards is an extension of the half-hour 10.00 pm daily news bulletin to an hour, with live updates from five regions including Pune, Nagpur, Kolhapur, Aurangabad and Nasik.
A vox populi titled Bola Re is also part of daily news, says Vaidya, to gauge the pulse of the people in the run-up to the elections.
Current affairs programmes such as Panchayat and Aamne Saamne, telecast on Sundays at 10.30 pm and 10.30 am respectively, dwell on issues concerning the people and the state against the backdrop of the polls, he adds.
DD Sahyadri, the 24-hour Marathi satellite channel from Doordarshan, will kick-off its election-related programming by the first week of September, informs Mukesh Sharma, director-general, Doordarshan, Mumbai.
A 15-minute show called Janadesh will be launched on September 1 at 6.45 pm, which will be extended to half-hour on Fridays. This show, targeting the rural community in particular, will profile candidates standing for the elections, concentrate on the work done by them and look at the issues on hand.
"As a public service broadcaster our role is to educate and inform rather than to tell people what to do and what not to do," says Sharma.
A regular talk show called Maha Charcha, telecast on Fridays at 5.30 pm, will have eight episodes devoted to the elections, he adds.
Besides, news bulletins on the channel will focus on the upcoming elections, and an election special for urban audiences in the 8.00 pm slot will also be launched soon. © 2004 agencyfaqs!