With major parties having TV channels, war spills over to the small screen

The campaign dust has settled. Leaders of political parties in the State are cooling their heels after a prolonged, hard campaign trail in the pre-summer heat, criss-crossing the cities and countryside.

Apart from rallies and public meetings, political parties here have campaigned equally hard — on television.

For, every major political party has its own television channel and many own their own party organs also.

The bitter rivalry between the DMK and the AIADMK extends to the small screen as well with both the parties blaming and targeting each other on various issues such as load shedding, the plight of the Tamil Nadu fishermen and that of the Sri Lankan Tamils, among a host of others. The channels were used primarily to provide live feed and repeated telecasts for party stalwarts. While the Maran-family owned ‘Sun Group’ of channels beamed campaigns of DMK president M. Karunanidhi and party treasurer M.K. Stalin, they also allotted space for other star campaigners during news bulletins.

‘Jaya TV’ was totally dedicated to the coverage of campaign by AIADMK general secretary and Chief Minister Jaylalithaa from day one of her tour.

‘Captain TV’, the channel of DMDK, provided live coverage from the streets as its leader Vijayakant and his wife Premalatha interacted with the people in every constituency.

‘Makkal TV’, free of entertainment aspects, did serve the political aims of the OBC Vanniyars-based Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK).

While the Congress has no channel as such, two of its leaders — K.V. Thangkabalu and H. Vasanthakumar — have Mega TV and ‘Vasanth TV’ respectively. But the Congress cadre feel disappointed as the two channels did not devote much time to the campaign of party candidates. The Indhiya Jananayaka Katchi (IJK) leader T.R. Pachamuthu’s family owns the now popular ‘Puthiya Thalaimurai’ channel. With no television channel of their own in Tamil Nadu, the Left parties, CPI and CPI (M), relied heavily on their respective party newspapers, ‘Janasakthi’ and ‘Theekathir’ that carry the working class’ views to the voters. For long, MDMK general secretary Vaiko has been bemoaning that no television channel backed him with extensive coverage. This time, he too shared a bit of the limelight.

Most parties also tried to reach out to the voters through vernacular media with the supporters and well-wishers placing advertisements on candidates’ behalf. The ‘FM radio channels’ further came in handy to catch the ever-mobile voters. The man who stole the show through advertisement, though, was Narendra Modi. As part of a nationwide campaign, the State saw Mr. Modi’s face on every paper and channel, including the neutral ones.

Parties leveraged the mobile platform as well targeting voters individually. People of Chennai have been receiving calls and messages from candidates from respective constituencies as polling day approaches. Parties have tried to leverage the social media platform too.

Within 60 days of starting its IT wing, the AIADMK has utilised WhatsApp, the free mobile messaging service, to carry the party’s achievements to 1.63 million users every day with 30-second videos, say sources. In what it calls a ‘guerrilla marketing strategy,’ it offered a paid service wherein people could dial in to listen to ‘Amma’s voice’ and then later got ‘Amma’s voice’ to reach out to the people.

Meanwhile, memes that are doing the rounds add spice to the elections, wherein the good and bad sides of politicians, are all virtually out in the open.