The rainbow election

As the results came in,TV news lost the big picture with all the colour-coding.

Written by Shailaja Bajpai | Published: December 12, 2013 3:37:31 am

As the results came in,TV news lost the big picture with all the colour-coding.

Television news has a habit of making everything look far more colourful than it actually is. Sunday was a bright and beautiful day for the BJP as the results from the four assembly elections gave them the green signal. For the AAP,it was a red letter day as news of its unprecedented success in Delhi was emblazoned across all channels.

But this wasn’t enough for TV news. Oh no. They had to paint everything in all the hues of the rainbow — and then some. The TV screen was often so cluttered,so filled with colour,it was difficult to concentrate on the results as they came in,or the big picture.

DD News was its usual sobersides with its Janadesh poll results in mauve and purple. NDTV India went black and yellow with maps,seat changes,election flashes; Aaj Tak was electric blue and a cheery red with a four-way split screen and breaking news; Zee News had a different colour for every party,every state — black,red,green,orange,blue for the results plus election news trailing at the bottom. The anchor on Zee Business was evidently so pleased with what he saw,he couldn’t contain his excitement. It also had an eight-way split screen — too much.

India TV was mercifully sober in green and orange (the colours of the BJP?) while News 24 went blue,red and vanilla for parties and the results. IBN7 had a palette of yellow,blue,green,grey and red,plus campaign shots,state positions,Delhi leads,flashes; India News was filled with faces (eight),party positions for Delhi,results for the states,breaking news — impossible to follow because by the time you had taken in each element,the leads had already changed.

NDTV 24×7 was dignified in white and red and a table almost as large as the studio — minimalist,soothing,easy on the eye. Times Now was so blue in the face,you wondered if there was a lack of oxygen in the studio with at least 10 people on camera (besides the hidden production team). In addition,it had the spectrum — with a bandwidth of columns and colours providing all manner of interesting trends in the results — if you could understand any of it: “Almost everything is in saffron,everyone is eating into the green except the green,” proclaimed Arnab Goswami. Sounded exotic but what did it mean,exactly,that couldn’t have been said in simple words?

Headlines Today,like Aaj Tak,was blue,red and black while CNN-IBN went with yellow,blue,grey,green for party positions,plus leads,and Delhi positions besides the panelists. ABP took a different route: its anchor scurried from one table to another where staffers were tracking individual states and battles.

So we had this riot of colours and figures on party positions that changed more rapidly than the sensex. All this and more,barring the shouting. And questions like,“Kaisa lag raha hai?” to an AAP candidate who replied,“Bahut achha” (News X) — what else? And the onions and potatoes Congress spokespersons lobbed about as excuses for their party’s defeats (Headlines Today). And the sore loser. Q: Is this a vote against Sonia and Rahul? Rita Bahuguna (Congress): Not at all. Chuckle from panellists. Bahuguna (angrily): What are you laughing about?

Or the barbs: On CNN-IBN,Ravi Shankar Prasad,testily,to Rajdeep Sardesai: “I know your views on Modi” to which Sardesai replied,testily,my views are “neutral”. Ouch. If this isn’t the great Indian poll circus,what is?

After victory and defeat,the vanquished and the victor appeared on TV,Monday. Arvind Kejriwal coughed his way through Sardesai’s questions,mouthing platitudes about politics with a difference that had made him so popular in Delhi: “Truth is very powerful,truth ki jeet hogi…” (CNN-IBN). Sheila Dikshit was pale but stout-hearted,gracious in defeat but combative (Aaj Tak). She admitted that she did not get the “feeling” she would lose to Kejriwal but that she had nevertheless taken the defeat in her “stride”,and no,the defeat had nothing to do with Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. Ahem.

shailaja.bajpai@expressindia.com

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