CMS Media Lab Analysis China's Hu remains Who for Indian TV News Channels

Contrary to expectations, president Hu Jintao visit last fortnight to India, the first by a Chinese president in a decade, did not evoke much interest in Indian TV News bulletins. It was covered far less than President Bush's visit earlier this year but got more coverage than Japanese PM Koizumi's visit last year and French president Chirac's visit early this year.

Surprisingly, president Jintao's visit was covered less than last year's Chinese PM's visit, despite Jintao is not only the president of the country but also the chief of the ruling Communist Party of China.

During president Jintao's four days stay in India (i.e. 20 to 23 November), news channels continued their preference towards cricket. Six news channels devoted 301 minutes of coverage time on Indian cricket team's tour to South Africa in comparison to 215 minutes for President Jintao's visit. Even Brian Lara's 34th century against Pakistan got 118 minutes of coverage time, during the same period in the news bulletins.

Similarly, the news of Rahul Mahajan's alleged beating of his wife, got 214 minutes coverage time. On the day of President Jintao's visit (i.e. 20 November), Rahul Mahajan's episode got 10 times more coverage time than the visit, i.e. 175 minutes to Rahul Mahajan and only 18 minutes to Jintao's visit in four news channels NDTV India, Zee News, Star News and Aaj Tak together.

The six news channels covered are DD News, NDTV India, Zee News, Sahara Samay, Star News and Aaj Tak. Their prime time (7-11 pm) news bulletins were content analysed. Together these channels are expected to reflect the news media's priority and the process of national agenda making.

Except for DD News and Sahara Samay, the other four channels devoted more time on Rahul Mahajan's episode than for president Jintao's visit. DD News and Sahara Samay devoted 73 and 83 minutes respectively on the coverage of the visit.

Whereas, Zee News gave only five minutes coverage to President Jintao's entire visit. But devoted 57 minutes on Rahul Mahajan's episode and gave 53 minutes to gossip on Amitabh Bachchan's possible return to politics.

President Jintao's visit got lesser coverage time, than last year's Chinese PM's five days visit, which got 315 minutes of coverage time. Despite the controversy over Arunachal Pradesh resurfacing just a week before the visit and increased commerce and political relationship since.

But president Jintao more coverage than Japanese PM's three days visit in 2005 and French president's three days visit in the beginning of 2006. In comparison to president Jintao's 215 minutes, PM Koizumi and president Chirac got only 79 and 95 minutes coverage respectively, during their visit.

President Bush's visit spanning three days got whopping 1392 minutes coverage time in the news bulletins, much higher than the total coverage of visits of all the four head of states to India.C

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TV news channels had gone overboard and covered President Bush's arrival and joint press briefing with PM Manmohan Singh live, but President Jintao's arrival was not covered live. Even his joint press briefing with Indian PM did not get the priority.

(The views expressed here are those of the author and need not necessarily subscribe to the same.)

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