At 3.10 pm on April 5, 30 minutes before Prime Minister Narendra Modi stepped on to the stage in Dehradun to address a rally, a secret team in military fatigues successfully conducted “nuclear tests” in Pokhran, making India a nuclear state. This action took place on NaMo TV — and those 30 minutes opened a wide window into what exactly this channel is about: Modi and movies that promote the BJP’s brand of nationalism.
The origins of NaMo TV are shrouded in secrecy, and it appears to live in the cracks between the laws governing television channels in the country. But NaMo TV seems to be clear about what it stands for. Everything, except for the feature films they show in the afternoons, is centered on the person it is named after.
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It shares more than just its logo with the BJP-owned Narendra Modi mobile app. It provides little information about itself, except asking viewers to go to narendramodi.in or to download the NaMo mobile app.
The tickers at the bottom of the screen run Modi quotes — either from his speeches made during the day, or from his interviews to other media outlets. It also keeps viewers updated on when and where the PM will address his next political rally.
NaMo TV is available with all major DTH operators in the country. On Airtel, it is wedged between India TV and NDTV India, on 316, in the series of Hindi news channels. It is also available on another channel number on Airtel — 110. On Tata Sky too, it is listed in the Hindi News category.
Among the films the channel has shown over the last few days is Toilet Ek Prem Katha, which aligns with Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign. Besides the films and Modi’s rallies, there isn’t much else. The channel repeats, on loop, a presentation on the achievements of the Modi-led government in the last five years. It talks about farmers, women, security, digital payments, etc.
At seven in the morning, the channel teaches several yoga asanas. There are animated videos of Modi doing the asanas. The videos were produced as part of a campaign created by BlueKraft Digital Foundation, a private entity which was the knowledge partner of the Modi-authored Exam Warriors.
The channel seems to get live feed from ANI news agency. ANI’s logo and phone numbers popped up during a disruption in the feed of Modi’s speech from Dehradun on Friday.
The channel also shows Modi’s older speeches in full. On Friday evening it was re-telecasting the more than two-hour long ‘Main Bhi Chowkidaar’ event. On Saturday it showed the older ‘Mera Booth Sabse Mazboot’ event.
Some other party leaders appear from time to time to talk about the Prime Minister’s and the government’s achievements. But live feed is largely restricted to Modi alone, with speeches of other leaders getting airtime only if Modi has not started speaking at the pre-determined time. The ‘Main Bhi Chowkidaar’ and ‘Modi Hai Toh Mumkin Hai’ campaign songs act as fillers when no other content is available.
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