Thursday, May 11, 2006

The TV Wars

Note: My election 2006 TV idiot countdown is at the end.

Voters in TN just cannot complain about lack of information about political parties. The 2 main parties, each with its own TV channel, communicated every possible bit of (mis)information to the voters in the last 3 months. Somebody should do a world-wide research on this. Probably, never in the history of democratic society have elections been fought like this - on TV. Tamil Nadu has about a dozen TV channels catering to its state viewers. I am not even sure if Hindi, with a 4X more viewership than Tamil, has 12 channels.

6 channels campaigned for DMK and about 2-3 for ADMK. It is a foregone conclusion that National parties have limited relevance/scope in Tamil Nadu but TV increases the barriers to entry of those parties. Yes! having a TV channel is not just helpful but it has become indispensable barrier to entry if you want to contest elections in Tamil Nadu. If DMK distributes its free TV for every family then the way elections will be fought in the future in TN will be totally different from anywhere else in India (world). All the road campaigning, campaign tours, meetings etc will become meaningless. You have the TV to do it with special effects. In the future the impact of TV (with customized programmes for local people) could be much much higher than an election rally. The value chain of becoming a political party includes TV Channel -> TVs in voter base -> Cable TV provider -> Political Party.
There could be a future where TV channels would be created for entertaintment purposes and once every 5 years they could lend their channel to some political party for campaigning purposes. The incentive for showing good programming and increasing viewer base would be for the purposes of charging high rental fee every 5 years. The party which rents the most popular channel will have more chances of winning. This would clearly eliminate independents and fringe parties from contesting (its already minimal). Is this what is called "new game strategies" :-).

Coming back to Jaya Vs Sun. These 2 channels have been fairly ruthless for the last decade. The mantra clealry is "don't say anything that could be even remotely construed as a compliment/good news for the opposition party". Even a plain fact like election results fall under this rule. In 1996 when Jayalalitha lost, Jaya TV stopped its election coverage in 5 minutes and started showing MGR films. In 2001 when DMK lost Sun TV stopped their election coverage within seconds. They did not even show a small news item announcing change of power. Now, for the first time, the elections were closely contested (as closely as it is possible in TN) and each channel took the aggresive route by showing huge numbers for the respective political parties. In what was very funny Jaya TV quickly scaled up ADMK seats to 90+ and refused to give DMK more than 30. Sun TV on the other hand was hovering at 160+ in no time and kept ADMK at 62. Even after it became evident that ADMK was going to lose, Jaya TV was unwilling to let go of its 'virtual' TV lead.
It was a riot to watch Ravi Bernard swallow, and lie more. Poor guy - he looked really constipated. Jokes aside - this shows the extent of rivalry that exists. Maybe the purpose was to give rural DMK people a scare, who knows - but it was funny while it lasted. Maybe in the future the losing party, if it had a huge TV network, would pretend that they won the elections. The election commision cannot walk up to each door and tell people who the real winner is (even if they did, who would believe them?). The opposition party could rule the state for 5 years and the people needn't even be informed. All you need is for a dominant TV network to tell people that you won (which is very easy given the fact that you own the TV channel).

You laugh now. But it could be true in 5 years.

Okay now for the idiots in TV (Excuse the spellings).

1) Barkha Dutt: I swear in all my years of TV watching I have never seen a bigger idiot than her. You can search the entire world, sample every person who has ever lived and you will find that she is more stupid than some of the dead bodies you exhumed. Watching her and Pranob Roy in the same studio was like watching 'pal payasam' and 'vomit' together. I will fight to death anybody who puts anybody ahead of her in the idiot countdown. And there was this bearded freak called Srinivasan who was NDTV's Tamil Nadu correspondent. Man! his talk with ADMK MP - what a condescending interview?

2) Rajdeep Sardesai:: Needless to say, he is an insult to news covering community across the world. Let the other guy talk and make his point you moron! Dont push your own freakin' agenda.

3) Karan Thapar: He was nowhere to be seen, but I'll include him for the sake of his historical acheivements.

4) Ravi Bernard:: He should have quit the dumb i'll quote-election-seats-like-bargaining-for-cows-in-kanyakumari. It was a horrible sight to watch a decent host/interviewer stoop to such a low level and make an ass of himself.

5) Pranob Roy: For employing Barkha Dutt.
They should watch the kid in Headlines Today (formerly from Sun News) and learn how it is done.


Nilu said...

avan en dosthu! - peru Zakka Jacob.


arnab goswami pathi sollave illaye? did you watch the countdown to the TN elections on
ndtv,cnn-ibn and times now? all vambu-alappu happened on these channels with dr,maithreyan (ADMK)a DMK representative, Jayanthi natarajan, CHo, N Ram and suchi, suhasini arvind swamytypes.
it was pathetic coz jayanthi natarajan and cho repeated the same thing on ALL channels.. it was monotonous, repetetive and boring. N ram was his boring self.. arent there more celebrities, political analysts in Chennai? why have the same set of people over and over again?

Hawkeye said...


to borrow from MMKR

summa solla koodathu sokka solraan. athellam appadiye varathu thaan'la . i am a huge fan. he carries himself very well.

Nilu said...

he is very ordinary. just that the others are such idiots.

jomy said...

Barkha Dutt given sum kind of demi-god status ...for i dunno what reason !!

During the Kargil war ...
There was a hidden bunker from where she was reporting, and then she called someone from her phone ... even though she was warned not too ... which got intercepted by the Pakistanis ...

They got the location of the bunker and shelled it ...

She escaped with some minor injuries, but a couple of soldiers in the bunker got killed.
What an idiot !

Sowmya said...

I really like that kid that comes for weather report in sun tv. Even if she said "pagalil velichamaagavum, iravil iruttagavum irukkum" , it would be cute. She is such a baby.

Suresh Ramani said...

giving away free tv is an investment not just for political ambitions, but also for the tv channels - its kinda like giving away free cell phones along with 1 or 2 year contracts ..

Hawkeye said...


i wanted to see that program but unfortunately could not see it.

people were upset rajaji and MS Subbulakshmi werent mentioned in the icons question. i am not sure about the exact context of the question but this what i overheard from old people.

Hawkeye said...


from the first time i saw him in sun news, i was impressed. his english is the best in indian TV

Hawkeye said...


poor soldiers. they should have shot her the moment she made the call. they could have saved our lives.

Hawkeye said...


isn't her name sowmya too?

Hawkeye said...


5.5 X 10^7 makkal. Lets say conservatively its 5.5 makkal per family. So its 10^7 TVs. Lets say half of that already have TVs so its 5 * 10^6 TVs. 2 * 10^3 per "china" TV. This makes its 10^10. 1000 crores.

'komputer' by jaya also boiled down to 1000 crores. using 2 lacs +2 makkals times 5 years and 10K per computer.

sprint gives free cell phone and sprint takes money for 2 year contract.

inga TN 'gorment' gives 1000 crores and maran/SCV loots it back.

Saravanakumar said...

great analysis,at least the english channels are there to represent democracy,and how ridiculous the tamil channels were in the election coverage.Hats off to the journalists.Let us not discourage them as they r the only one found to be realistic

I said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
I said...

After the dmk victory, sun tv stocks went up.

Hawkeye said...



I (you),

it has to. its price can be jacked up at will now, and next 5 years it has unlimited cash flows, so mite as well have an organic rise.