News channels line up special shows for Karnataka elections

MUMBAI: The Indian media will never let go of an opportunity to milk the most of the country's favourite event - elections. Channels know that it is a time when people switch over from other genres to news.

The Karnataka Assembly election 2018 is just around the corner and many broadcasters have recently launched new Kannada news channels to not miss out on the event. However, even national channels are cashing in. A bunch of channels was all launched in the last couple of months including iTV network’s NewsX Kannada, Focus group’s Focus TV Kannada and Swaraj express SMBC’s Swaraj Express Kannada.

Elections will be held on 12 May 2018 and the counting of votes and announcement of the result will take place on 15 May 2018.

Times Now has been covering the Karnataka elections for over two months with a series of ground reports and special debates. A special documentary series focusses on issues during this election right from the mining town of Bellary to the heartland of Mangaluru. The channel will track key leaders as they battle to retain their constituencies. 5:30 pm onwards, in association with VMR, it will release its exit poll. State of the art digital information gathering systems to sample a large number of voters will give an insight into how the state may shape out. In studio, a large number of senior journalists and political commentators will give their expert opinion on the result of the poll.

Times Now has planned a full-fledged programming of 16 hours on 12,13 and 14 May 2018 each and on 15 May it will be day long programming. 21 reporters have been spread out across Karnataka and Delhi.

CNN-News18 and News18 India have both lined-up extensive programming. CNN-News18 is airing shows under the branding ‘Battle for Karnataka’ and includes specials such as ‘Poll of Polls’ and ‘Reporters Project’ apart from special episodes of primetime shows – Viewpoint, Face-Off Tonight and News Epicentre hosted by executive editor Bhupendra Chaubey, deputy executive editor Zakka Jacob and political editor Marya Shakil, respectively.

On News18 India, Sabse Bada Dangal – Karnataka Elections will give a 360 degree view of these crucial elections to its viewers. A daily election bulletin and audience-based debates which will have national and regional leaders discussing various pertinent issues is planned. The channel’s popular show Bhaiyaji Kahin, an on-ground show which allows voters to interact directly with leaders, will telecast a host of special episodes from across the state.

Since some networks, such as News18 Network, have channels in multiple languages, it is likely to add new dimensions to reporting. Speaking on the same, a CNN News18 spokesperson told, “The focus of our network’s channels, irrespective of their genre, is to ensure that key issues are highlighted and the different points of view and voices are presented in the most credible fashion in order to empower voters. While the focus on and treatment of specific issues, as well as overall coverage, may vary across different channels based on their core audiences, the above tenet is something that will drive our coverage of these elections across all our channels.”

CNN News18 is airing both shows dedicated to elections and regular shows with election specials. The spokesperson adds, "As we close in on the counting day the quantum of the programming will keep increasing with specials such as the Poll of Polls etc. Of course, the counting day will entirely be dedicated to elections coverage. Even post the same till government formation, the channels will continue to track developments given the importance of these elections.”

Business Television India (BTVI) has started its Namma Elections 2018 daily coverage from 4 May onwards. As part of this special series, BTVI has held various panel discussions with key opinion leaders in the state capital. The programmes will be aired on the channel throughout the week till the results announcement.

BTVI executive editor Siddharth Zarabi says, “Our coverage concentrates on covering topics related to the larger economic, infrastructure and societal issues in the state. As a channel that caters to the decision makers across segments all over India, our programming is focused on themes like brand Bengaluru, politics for change looking beyond caste and creed, ethics in politics and business. We have multiple panel discussions under the umbrella of Namma Election along with multiple one on one discussions with dignitaries from diverse backgrounds sharing their views on Karnataka elections under the umbrella of brand Karnataka."

BTVI says it has created a destination for viewers to catch all election related programming and 8.30 pm is where it airs one show per day. The same show will be available on all OTT platforms that live stream BTVI – Jio TV, Yupp TV, Hotstar. Besides these, viewers can watch BTVI live on various trading apps like Kotak Stock Trader App, Axis Direct App, IIFL Markets App, etc.

TV Today Network managing editor Supriya Prasad says, that the network is covering the pre-Karnataka election days with shows like Shwet Patra which is hosted by Sweta Singh, Karnataka ka King Kaun and Opinion Poll on Aaj Tak. The network's prominent anchors are in Karnataka like Rajdeep Sardesai, Rahul Kanwal, Padmaja Joshi and Preeti Chaudhary. Running up to the elections, there are two to three hours of programming and day long shows on the main days.

iTV Network did a ‘Karnataka Next Conclave 2018’ on 7 May to get the insight from the strong political contenders about their preparations before the polls. iTV Network CEO Varun Kohli says, “All the three channels India News, NewsX and NewsX Kannada are doing extensive coverage of the elections."

With the election day being right around the corner, the channels will be more rigorous in their analysis of the election and give more limelight to the event. With almost all national channels dedicating their entire days to the Karnataka Elections, we will not only see a battle for votes but also one for views on TV.

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