Analysis finds that it is the most personality-driven election ever; south doesn’t figure in top 10

Prime ministerial hopeful Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party got more than a third of all prime-time television coverage during this Lok Sabha election, significantly higher than any other politician and party.

Researchers at CMS Media Lab, an independent, non-partisan media arm of the research organisation CMS, found that Mr. Modi got 2,575 minutes, or 33.21 per cent, of the prime-time news telecast. His closest competitor was Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal (10.31 per cent). Rahul Gandhi, who is leading the campaign of the Congress, came a distant third (4.33 per cent).

The study analysed the coverage of five major news channels: Aaj Tak, ABP News and Zee News (Hindi) and NDTV 24x7 and CNN IBN (English) in the 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. prime-time band from March 1 to April 30.

“Our numbers for the first week of May show that the amount of time given to coverage of Mr. Modi has risen even further and would be above 40 per cent of all the time given to politicians,” Prabhakar Sinha, CMS Media Lab coordinator, said. The only other BJP leader on the top 10 list is Mr. Modi’s confidant Amit Shah, who is not contesting the election.

No leaders from southern India figured on the top 10 list. Raj Thackeray, leader of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, which is contesting only 10 seats, came ninth and Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee 10th.

The BJP also dominated coverage of political parties, again getting over a third of the time, while the Congress was behind by over 10 percentage points. Once again, no southern party featured on the top10 list.

Politics and politicians, in particular, have dominated prime-time television news over the past two months, making this the most personality-driven election ever, Mr. Sinha said.

Political personalities took up nearly 40 per cent of the coverage and parties nearly 20 per cent. “In 2009, the IPL [Indian Premier League cricket tournament] was covered quite a bit in the period just before the election, but people seem to have lost interest this time. This election season has much higher concentration of purely political news than last time,” Mr. Sinha said.

Editors of the channels surveyed declined to comment on the record, but said they were merely following the biggest stories of the day. Some however, privately admitted that the media had gone overboard in its coverage of Mr. Modi.