Race for eyeballs hots up among news channels as polls draw closer

News channels are girding their loins as they get ready to fight for viewership during the assembly elections in four states scheduled this month. 

While Sahara has already announced elaborate coverage plans, Aaj Tak, the channel that claims the top slot among news channels, too has unveiled a meticulous strategy it plans to deploy to ensure the best poll coverage.

The channel has devised a comprehensive strategy to bring the assembly live to the nation, say officials. Dubbed Aap Ka Faisla, the coverage has started on 24 January and will continue till counting culminates on 24 February.

According to the channel, the election programming initiative has been split into three parts. The pre-election coverage will encompass the campaigns and will cover factors that could influence the elections, through a half hour programme titled Voton Ka Bandar Bant, to be aired daily between 10:30 and 11 pm. The programme includes a psephological analysis and includes a pre poll survey done for the channel by C-Voter. Anchor Gaurav Banerjee and C-Voter's Yashwant Deshmukh, along with expert panels comprising Prabhu Chawla and other invitees will analyse the scenario on the basis of historical data. This will include regional trends, caste break-up and political parties involved. Aaj Tak has also created an exclusive Election Room for the purpose where all data are being explained with the help of maps and graphics, say channel sources. 

The second phase will involve the actual election day coverage as well as the exit polls on 13, 14, 18 and 21 February. Chunav Ke Rang, a half hour programme, will attempt to convey the livelier aspects of the entire election exercise, including interviews with chief ministers, past and present, young aspirants in the fray and will touch upon subjects like the entry of criminals in politics, giving viewers an insight into the political games and strategies. The channel is also running a special profile section called Maharathi, which will profile the political careers of some of the key players in the fray.

On the day of the results, the channel will run a round-the-clock programme subtitled Chunav Ke Akhare Se. Studio guests, five OB vans placed at strategic locations and graphics for trends and results will be employed to make the live coverage interesting. The channel, a part of the India Today group well known for its indepth election coverage, has 12 complete units at important locations along with five OB vans; apart from the existing Aaj Tak bureau offices to cover the elections live. Satellite and landline connections are being put to maximum use, says the channel. 

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