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Lok Sabha TV catches up with private news channels

In Delhi, Lok Sabha TV (LSTV) recently equalled the television ratings (TVR) of prominent news channels such as CNBC 18, Headlines Today and CNN-IBN, according to TAM India rating agency, according to the Hindu Businessline.

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With a TRP of .01, LSTV's viewership was higher than several international channels such as BBC and CNN. Similar ratings were recorded in Mumbai, where LSTV matched popular news channel NDTV 24X7. Going by the ratings, people are warming up to LSTV, which is said to be the world's only channel to be owned and operated by a House of Parliament.

LSTV has the advantage of a far wider reach than many channels. This can be attributed to the Amendments to the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995 that make it compulsory for every cable operator to carry LSTV on its network.

The channel is government funded and runs on a tight budget. “We are not a revenue earning channel on the lines of private channels. Our aim is to get Parliament to the people and we pride ourselves on working on the principles of a public broadcaster. The only revenue we earn is from charging a very nominal fee from private channels to use the footage of parliamentary proceedings and from ‘Awareness and Publicity Campaigns' by several government ministries such as the Consumers Affairs Ministry, MTNL and Reserve Bank of India (RBI),” said Mr. P Sreedharan, Joint Secretary of Lok Sabha, who is LSTV's acting Chief Executive.

Publicity campaigns in 2009-10 fetched Rs.4.6 crore whereas the total capital expenditure for the same period was a meagre Rs. 1.5 crore. It is currently run from the Parliament Library Building and boasts of a modern Production Control room with 10 robotic cameras. The live proceedings from the House are transmitted using optical fibre connectivity. But the channel is not all about the Lok Sabha sessions. It has an array of value-added programmes which are aired after the House sessions and when the Lok Sabha is not meeting. These programmes cover areas relating to democracy, governance, people's issues, gender discourse, constitutional aspects and economy.

An avid viewer of the channel said, “I love the channel for the content of the discussions and the fact that it is mostly advertisement free.” Another viewer said, “The quality of the shows is impressive and is of great help. Also the hosts of the discussion programmes are excellent and the anchors are good listeners.” He added though, “They need to maintain consistency and change the look and format of their shows to make them more appealing.”

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, who hosted two popular shows Head Start and One on One continuously for three years till March 2010, said: “LSTV has huge potential as a means to not only educate but also empower the public as there are no commercial considerations in the channel.” He added that it is highly unfortunate that it has been without a Head since the past few months and that it could be due to plain bureaucratic lethargy.

With the recent optimistic TVR levels, industry watchers feel that LSTV must aim to achieve higher figures and resolve the current bureaucratic issues plaguing the channel. While some analysts believe attractive feature stories on entertainment and sports can result in a huge boost in TRPs, others say the channel should continue to build on its USP of a serious news channel.

Date posted: May 18, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 273