And the winner is...

As I write this I must confess I am under a bit of a handicap as my cable network has yanked out the NDTV suite of channels from the Electronic Programming Guide (EPG), so I am forced to watch 24x7 via broadband. But that of course ensures that it stays on even as I keep moving from one show to the other on the bigger screen.

Back to where I left off yesterday: which is my #1 English news channels for General Elections 2014? The decision wasn’t easy, and the only channel is not in the reckoning here is NewsX. Despite shows by M J Akbar and Vir Sanghvi, the coverage is pretty pedestrian. The Narendra Modi interview or conversation with Madhu Kishwar was a disaster.

When it comes to opinion polls: NDTV 24x7 has been the clear winner. And CNN-IBN runner-up. Headlines Today has had its share of polls, but even Karan Thapar was not a patch in comparison to to Roy & Co.

As for the Campaign Trail: NDTV 24x7 with Barkha Dutt is way ahead. But I like Rahul Kanwal and his Election Express on Headlines Today. Rajdeep Sardesai used to be good in these things, but for the elections, he’s better in the studio.

For studio debates and interviews: Times Now is the clear winner, though ever since Karan Thapar has entered the scene, Headlines Today is a close second. And CNN-IBN: it’s not a distant No 3 for me, but the channels I toggle between are: Times Now and Headlines Today.

The big day for the elections is undoubtedly May 16 and before that we will have the exit polls. My sense is that in both these, NDTV 24x7 will be ahead unless it messes up big-time, followed by CNN-IBN. Reason: for election analyses and studio discussions, Prannoy Roy is clearly able to attract the crème de la crème. And next is Rajdeep Sardesai. Arnab comes third, though in terms of TAM ratings, he may not be too far down. It’s possibly not right to dismiss Karan Thapar here, but while he’s excellent at doing post-mortems and interviews, I don’t remember him to be outstanding at the time of the results.

Pradyuman Maheshwari is a senior journalist and editor. When he’s not chasing news, he’s watching it. Twitter: @pmahesh

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