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The battle for ‘one’

Because why should anyone be Number 2?

While the Bharatiya Janata Party has come out as a clear winner in the Lok Sabha polls, TV channels are still battling it out among themselves on who won the TRP race when it came to reporting on general elections. Over the past 24 hours or so, major news channels have been bombarding us with self-congratulatory messages on why they were the bestest, awesomest and Number 1 news channel on Exit Polls and counting day, that is, on May 19 and 23, respectively. Republic TV and team smashed all records, it seems. This assertion wasn’t sourced back to any data set.

Meanwhile, Times Now, which is Republic TV’s lost twin from the Kumbh Mela, declared that the people of India along with choosing PM Modi, chose Times Now as the preferred channel during counting day, that is, May 23. The Times Now promo presented some inconsistent data points, the source of which wasn’t very apparent. Is it 30 per cent or 40 per cent? Or is it a range?  Maybe it doesn’t matter when you are undisputed No. 1.

India Today editor-anchors did some sly tweeting and indicated that while they were Number One, other channels claiming to be so were not playing by the rules. No prizes for guessing who they mean. It’s an old beef.

Kanwal and Sardesai cited Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) as the source and their data pertains to Mega Cities only, so the “India’s-Number-1-channel” claim may be a bit of an exaggeration. But let’s not spoil the party.

Next up, News18 told us their viewers had voted for CNN-News18 as the best channel on counting day and that they had emerged as clear winners. Where exactly this, umm, viewer election was held wasn’t very clear from the video in the tweet below. Network 18 Digital also announced that it beat Times Internet. “A record 56.2 million users logged on to Network18 Digital’s websites on May 23, ahead of the 55 million users that Times Internet claims for the same period,” said a report on News18.com.

Not to be left behind, ABP News also declared it was Numero Uno on May 23. The channel was honest enough to note that it was Number 1 between 8 am and 11 am, which is primetime in the world of ABP News.

It’s an old trick really and channels have been resorting to it for a while: cherry-pick the metric that makes you look the best.

Meanwhile, the BARC weekly data from May 18 to May 24 is out and it positions Republic TV as the Number One English channel and Aaj Tak as the Number One Hindi channel. It should be noted that this figure is for the entire week and not for May 19 and May 23—days on which, well, everyone was Number One.

www.newslaundry.com