With general elections just a few months away, All India Radio (AIR) is making plans to give out election-related news, results, analyses and comments, and even tweets, to compete with TV news channels.
AIR's first attempt at directly linking four regional stations for live phone-ins during the assembly election results Dec 8 proved a huge hit. Now it is gearing up to replicate the success on a bigger scale for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, AIR director general (news) Archana Dutta stated.
On Dec 8, when election results were pouring in from Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, AIR's News Services Division, for the first time, linked its units in the four state capitals to provide listeners with direct results and comments from the ground.
"Delhi connected with the other three regional news units (RNUs) at Jaipur, Raipur and Bhopal for the election results. We had live phone-in comments from experts, election analyses, results and leads were announced right from the counting centres," Dutta told IANS in an interview.
"It was similar to what TV news channels do with four to six commentators or correspondents linked together for a single live programme," Dutta added.
AIR correspondents relayed poll results from counting centres to the regional units as well as reactions of political leaders and common people. "This was an experiment, which proved to be a success. Our broadcast engineers had planned out the entire exercise," Dutta said.
Ahead of the general elections, AIR would start holding meetings and workshops in 2014 with engineers and regional units to ensure it all goes smoothly, she said.
"For the Dec 8 results, we held many meetings, including at the local level, for linking the four units. For the general elections coverage, we will hold many workshops," the official said.
AIR's news coverage has also slowly undergone a change.
With tweets becoming part of the official reaction of political leaders, the state-run broadcaster has adapted to the changing times and incorporates tweet posts of leaders.
AIR incorporated Arvind Kejriwal's tweet on hike in CNG prices in its news item while the Aam Aadmi Party leader was still Delhi's chief minister-designate.
"Tweets are very much part of news. I was asked by the news desk if we should carry the tweet of Kejriwal. I said, yes we must," said Dutta.
(Ranjana Narayan can be contacted at email@example.com)