Alokananda Chakraborty

Elections Coverage 2004: Aaj Tak, NDTV 24X7 emerge winners

In the crucial week of May 9-15, 2004, Aaj Tak and NDTV 24X7 emerged as the lead Hindi and English news channels, both in terms of channel shares and reach

The week of May 9-15, 2004, was not only crucial for Indian politics, but also for the myriad news channels that were covering the general elections 2004. And in the race for news viewership, after weeks of fighting rival NDTV India tooth and nail, Aaj Tak ultimately emerged the clear leader in the Hindi news broadcast segment. The leader garnered a channel share of 31.6 per cent, followed by NDTV India at 21.9 per cent. STAR News stood at 15.7 per cent, ZEE News at 12.3 per cent, DD News at 10.1 per cent and Sahara Samay National at 8.4 per cent, respectively (Source: TAM Media Research; Base population: C&S 4+, Hindi-speaking markets).

Reach-wise, however, NDTV India had a slight edge, standing at 47.3 per cent to Aaj Tak's 46.9 per cent for the week ending May 15, 2004. STAR News was third at 35.5 per cent, followed by ZEE News at 34.1 per cent, Sahara Samay National at 32 per cent and DD News at 29.8 per cent, respectively.

In the English-language segment, NDTV 24X7 predictably had a good run, with its channel share touching 57.4 per cent, followed by CNBC-TV18 at 16.7 per cent, BBC at 13 per cent, Headlines Today at 11.1 per cent and CNN at 1.9 per cent, respectively (Base population: C&S 4+, All India). In terms of reach, NDTV 24X7 notched up a score of 16.58 per cent, followed by CNBC-TV18 at 8.19 per cent. BBC World stood at 8.15 per cent, Headlines Today at 5.51 per cent, while CNN scored 2.27 per cent.

If the Lok Sabha elections spelt good news for Aaj Tak and NDTV 24X7, it also did wonders to the category as a whole. During the elections, the average share of news channels doubled from 5 per cent in the first quarter of 2004 to 10 per cent. Time spent increased from an average of 50 minutes to 89 minutes during the crucial counting week period (that is, May 9-15, 2004). May 13 - the all-important counting day - saw the share of news channels jump to 34 per cent in the morning, from an average of 6-9 per cent.

According to Atul Phadnis, vice-president and head of TAM, the spurt in news channel viewership during elections has been unprecedented. "We haven't see these kind of figures earlier," he says. "News channel viewership first got a shot in the arm on September 11, 2001. Till then, the average share of news channels hovered in the region of 2 per cent, which jumped to about 3.5-4 per cent post-September 11. Subsequently, it touched the 5-per cent mark in the first quarter of 2004, jumping to 10 per cent during the elections. Having achieved these figures, one fallout or possibility could be that the share of news channels may here onwards never drop below the 5-per cent mark, much like the way news channel share post-September 11 was consistent at 3.5-4 per cent. If such a scenario does finally emerge, the general elections 2004 would have created a second major dent in news channel viewership after September 11." © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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