New Delhi: English news channel Times Now has decided to suspend its live election results coverage of four states and a union territory Sunday, citing its emphasis on Covid-19 coverage as the reason.
The move is unprecedented and a first for a national news channel.
Industry sources told ThePrint that other major news channels such as Republic TV, India Today, TV9 Bharatvarsh would continue their live coverage of the election results.
Sonia Singh, NDTV’s editorial director, told ThePrint that while the channel will be covering the election results, its main and primary focus will remain the “corona situation and latest numbers as always”.
“For us this is the biggest health and humanitarian crisis in India and our coverage tomorrow, like every day since this began, will reflect that,” she said.
‘Will carry flash news updates on the counting’
In a statement issued Saturday, Times Now said that while the channel acknowledges that the five state elections results are of interest to their homebound viewers, it has decided to suspend their “usual special election coverage” Sunday.
“We will refrain from covering poll-related celebrations as a symbolic gesture of our disagreement with the untimeliness of this activity,” the statement said.
It added the channel will keep Covid-19 as its main priority and focus on Covid-related news reports, the progress of the universalised vaccination drive, information on helplines and interaction with healthcare and mental wellness experts.
“To keep viewers informed on the election results, and with due respect for the democratic process wherein 20 per cent of our population has participated in the sacred ritual of voting in the last month, we will carry flash news updates on the counting and results,” the statement added.
It also said that as the Covid wave keeps climbing and claiming more lives, it is clear that there has been serious lapse in leadership at all levels — across the political spectrum.
“It is unfortunate that our institutions have also failed us leading to the current state of disarray, anguish and all round panic,” it said, adding that Times Now has been vocal against these lapses and has questioned holding the Kumbh Mela in March 2021 as much as it had highlighted the Tablighi Jamaat fiasco in May 2020.
Live coverage of the election results — and exit polls coverage — are a major news event for the media and traditionally news channels provide extended all-day coverage that consists of the counting and results, analysis and debates with much pomp.
The election special shows are also believed to earn significant revenues for news channels with several advertisers advertising during the high-visibility coverage.
Leading news channels had hosted live exit opinion polls Thursday.
English news channel India Ahead said it will keep its coverage on Sunday focused on Covid. In a statement, the channel said the only victory that matters right now is over Covid, and not election.
Editor-in-chief of the channel Bhupendra Chaubey in a tweet said, “#CovidEmergency vs #AssemblyPolls. Pick your choice. We have already done that.”
— bhupendra chaubey (@bhupendrachaube) May 1, 2021
Brajesh Mishra, editor-in-chief of Hindi news channel Bharat Samachar has also tweeted that they will not cover the poll results, adding that the channel’s focus will be on saving lives.
भारत समाचार मे हम 2 मई की मतगणना की कवरेज नहीं करेंगे। इसी दिन यूपी मे पंचायत चुनाव के भी नतीजे आने हैं। लेकिन हम स्वयं को इससे अलग करते है। हमारी प्राथमिकता अपनो को बचाना है। उन्हें ऑक्सीजन, बेड और जीवन रक्षक दवाएं कैसे मिले ये खबर दिखाएंगे। मतगणना के अंतिम नतीजे बता दिए जायेंगे
— Brajesh Misra (@brajeshlive) April 30, 2021
At @themojostory we will not be doing any shows on the state election results . The rallies have been immoral & criminal , an affront to health workers and to all our families who have lost loved ones to COVID. Way more egregious than the tone deaf IPL. Does not deserve air time
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) April 29, 2021
(Edited by Debalina Dey)
This report has been updated to add that India Ahead news channel will keep its coverage on Sunday focused on Covid.
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