TV news channels fail to shape public opinion: Study

New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) Wide political coverage on TV news channels this Lok Sabha elections failed to shape public opinion and motivate voters to exercise their franchise, a new study said here Sunday.

The study, conducted by the media lab of the Centre for Media Studies (CMS), claims that all the six news channels surveyed devoted over 40 percent of their time to election-related news but failed to make a substantial impact on the audiences and their opinions. Also, they were unsuccessful in motivating the electorate to vote.

The news channels surveyed were DD News, Aaj Tak, NDTV 24X7, Zee News, CNN-IBN and Star News during the prime time slots (from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.) between March 1 and May 11. At least 25,266 minutes, i.e. 40.91 percent, of the news time was exclusively devoted to election-related news during the period.

"Major media houses brought out a campaign appealing to people to vote. However, they did not mention why and on what basis people should exercise their vote. This could be one reason why the campaign hardly made an impact on them (the voters) and the voter turn out remained low," head of CMS media lab Prabhakar said in a statement.

The overall voter turnout in the 15th Lok Sabha polls was 58.43 percent, according to the Election Commission of India. The elections were held over five phases in all the states and union territories from April 16 to May 13.

"Another aspect that requires cognisance is that election this year was not fought on the basis of a major poll plank. This rendered difficulties for the media in focusing coverage around a particular issue. There was a clear disconnect between the voters and the media," Prabhakar added.

The study also said that the political coverage overshadowed major contenders like cricket (Indian Premier League) and entertainment, specifically Bollywood.

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