Rebecca Hawkes ©RapidTVNews | 26-08-2011
The sight of a small elderly man publically fasting in protest at the depths of corruption in his country has doubled the size of broadcast news audiences in India in the past week.
According to new data from monitoring company TAM, the level of interest in Anna Hazare's hunger strike in Delhi has not only sent masses onto the streets, but also kept many glued to the TV screens.
The average daily time spent by Indians watching a Hindi news channels has increased by a whopping 98 per cent to 16.9 minutes, between 14-20 August, when compared with the previous week.
Hindi broadcast news channels increased their TV audience share by 87% to 11.02 points, while English language news channels upped their presence by 74% with 0.54 points, according to TAM. A week earlier, Hindi and English news channels had registered an average genre share of 5.7% and 0.33%, respectively.
The number of viewers tuning into Star News rose 15% in the past week, according to Neeraj Sanan, vice president and head of marketing and distribution at Media Content and Communications Services India, which runs the channel.
"From 26 million viewers we [Star News] are reaching out to 31 million. We have noticed a strong surge in viewership across tier II and tier III towns in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan in the past week," Mr Sanan is quoted as saying in Live Mint.
The publication also quotes Piyush Jain, chief operating officer at Network 18's Hindi news channel IBN7, as saying: "The Hindi news genre has grown 80-90% in barely a week."
Reports on the progress of the Jan Lok Pal parliamentary bill – which India's anti-corruption campaigners are pressing for – accounted for 71.27% of content across the ten leading news channels, according to analysis by TAM between 14-20 August.
The channels analysed comprise: Aaj Tak, Headlines Today, CNN IBN, IBN 7, India TV, NDTV 24/7, NDTV India, Star News, Times Now and Zee News.
As a result, those tuning into sports programming in India dropped 33%, while Hindi movies showed a 12% fall from the 16.38% genre share it held in the previous week to 14.44% between 14-20 August.