Television

Sheena Bora murder case hogs headlines on news channels

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NEW DELHI: Even as the Sheena Bora murder case dominated prime time coverage on all television news channels consuming one third of the 8 to 10 pm slot, an interesting message was doing the rounds on WhatsApp.

Addressing some prominent anchors and heads of news channels, the message agreed that no one should die the way Bora did, but stressed that such news did not add value to the nation. After highlighting other issues that faced the nation like price rise, corruption, floods or One Rank One Pension (OROP), it ended with the line, “Government is happy that the nation's attention is diverted as the media is not talking about the real issues.”

That said and done, the fact remains that our sensation-hungry news media, which dishes out more entertainment than some general entertainment channels (GECs) were totally taken over by this one case for over two weeks.

According to a study by CMS Media Lab, English News channels gave more coverage to the murder case compared to Hindi News channels. Sheena Murder Case coverage dispelled the myth that Hindi News channels are more sensational compared to English News channels.

CMS Media Lab analysed 15 days of coverage of six national TV news channels from 25 August to 8 September, 2015. The channels included in the study were Aaj Tak, ABP News, Zee News, DD News, CNN IBN and Times Now.

The channels carried 113 stories and 61 special programs on the Sheena Bora murder case. These six TV channels broadcast 2282 minutes (38 hours) of special programs and stories during this period. Among the monitored news channels, two English News channels - Times Now and CNN IBN – between them contributed 60 per cent of the total coverage minutes.

Times Now, which generally dwells more on political or terrorism-related stories, alone devoted 40 per cent of the total coverage time. The channel topped in the coverage by devoting 948 minutes to the case followed by CNN IBN, which allotted 424 minutes.

Among Hindi News Channels, Aaj Tak led in the coverage by giving 341 minutes, closely followed by ABP News and Zee News. Both Zee and ABP News gave equal importance by showing 268 minutes and 263 minutes of coverage respectively.

Expectedly, DD News gave the least time to the case by allotting only 36 minutes during the entire study period.

The study shows the following: 

Prime Time (8-10 PM) Coverage of Sheena Bora Murder Case

(25 August - 8 September 2015)

One wonders if private news channels, which dwell hours on each story with endless repetitions, and create debates on stories that do not need any discussion, will learn anything the lessons of the past when channels had to admit they had made mistakes in coverage.

Perhaps the note doing the rounds on social media summed up the general message to the channels very aptly - “Focus on issues that concern us. Do not take us for a ride.”

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