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Times Now grabs lion’s share of TRPs from Anna-lila

But second placed CNN-IBN scores strongly in terms of balanced content when news channels went berserk.

Neha Saraiya | Delhi | September 5, 2011

The day after August 15, Anna Hazare declared his intention to launch his indefinite fast against corruption, terming it as India’s second independence struggle. But Delhi Police denied him permission to hold his fast in JP Park in central Delhi. That was the spark that lit one of India’s biggest social movements in modern times.

Anna was arrested in an early morning swoop on August 16. He was released two days later following nationwide protests. He went straight from Tihar Jail to Rajghat. The drama that was to last a fortnight, had begun -- and following the new Messiah of modern India was a beeline of OB vans.

Initially, nobody had visualised that it would turn out to be a mammoth media circus. It all unfolded like ‘Peepli Live’. Relentless coverage by TV news channels set the tone for the nation – and viewership. TV crews thronged the gates of Tihar, where Anna spent the first three days of his fast.

The cameras rolled relentlessly, day and night. For English news channels it was the show of elitists as support poured in from middle class and upper middle class viewers. The cameras sought out pretty faces among the protesters for a vox pop.

Times Now was quick to sense the mood, and it in a way appeared to set an agenda for the nation. The channel followed Anna and his team at every step, almost creating the impression that it was mounting a full-blown support to the anti-graft movement. In its studios, maximum time was spent in comparing the Anna show with the JP movement of 1975.

Blowing with the Anna whirlwind, Times Now garnered the maximum eyeballs with the highest relative share even in the second and final week of the Anna movement among all English channels. Four programmes of Times Now featured in the top 10 list for Week 35 of TAM 2011.

If Times Now got any competition, it was only in terms of top programmes from CNN-IBN which too had four of programmes in the top 10 list. The only channel which included all the voices and set an example of unbiased reporting was CNN-IBN. The channel gave equal space to the voices of other social right activists like Aruna Roy and Arundhati Roy. Those who claim that the media didn’t focus on the government’s version cannot complain that CNN-IBN did the same. Getting away from the frenzy, the channel showed the right picture by digging in and questioning minute issues of the movement. Despite being far behind in TRPs, its four shows in top 10 list prove that the channel had the best content line-up.

At No. 3, NDTV didn’t lose its cool like other channels and reported without taking sides. Contrary to its reputation of giving space to other important developments, the channel didn’t give any airtime to stories like the Bihar flood.

Headlines Today also did a laudable job in covering the Anna show. The channel went beyond studio and its executive editor Rahul Kanwal reported from ground zero but somehow the channel failed to get the desired mileage from the movement.

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