I told you so, way back on April 16. More than Results Day where the fortunes of Messrs NaMo, RaGa, AK, et al got known, it was yesterday, May 22, that was the Big Day for our news channels.
The viewership ratings from measurement agency TAM came in and as it happens, there were contradictory claims and counter claims. Both Aaj Tak and ABP News exclaimed that they were No 1. They may well be right. It’s all in the slicing and dicing of data, time bands etc. A glass half full can also be called as a glass half empty. Wink, wink.
Then of course came the numbers from the English channels. Times Now proclaimed it was numero uno. In a press release that I received Arnab Goswami thundered: “This is one of the biggest margins of victory for any news channel on election day. Clearly it reaffirms the faith the viewers have in Times Now. This election we have also pioneered the use of innovative technologies like Holograms and Augmented Reality to provide viewers with a never before experience.”
If numbers were an indicator of ''goodness", Times Now would be the clear winner. But that’s not what it really is. While it has all the drama and ArGa possesses the energy of the entire world, according to me CNN-IBN was better on May 16. I still stand by my scores in this column last Saturday: Times Now 6/10, CNN-IBN 8/10.
Alas, it’s the popularity numbers that finally matter. Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar. In the long run though, quality matters. That’s how Arnab got to the top. He asked the tough questions. And like Big B Amitabh Bachchan did eons ago, he represents the Angry Young Man of India. Not willing to take no for an answer and not shy of grilling the tough and mighty.
But, shouting day after day.
Night after night?
Pradyuman Maheshwari is a senior journalist and editor. When he’s not chasing news, he’s watching it. Twitter: @pmahesh E: firstname.lastname@example.org