Politics & Promotion go hand-in-hand in South India

In this media driven age, where perception is the only reality; it’s only fitting that the last of the acknowledged Promotion takes precedence over all else. Politicians ranging from Mahatma Gandhi to Sharad Pawar have always invested in the print media; and all major political parties already boast of their own newspapers & magazines as mouthpieces. But now, Television is emerging as the new promotion phenomena amidst these sons-of-the soil in south India.

Take Sun TV for example, it’s the second largest TV network across the country. Started by Kalanidhi Maran, son of the late Union Minister Murasoli Maran and nephew of politician Karunanidhi; Sun TV was till recently, the voice of DMK (before Maran and Karunanidhi had a fallout recently). Even the headquarters of Sun TV are located within the DMK party headquarters in Chennai and the propaganda was done very cleverly. In 2001, when Karunanidhi was arrested at midnight, Sun TV showed visuals of Karunanidhi being roughed up; used wisely during the next elections.

Similarly, Jaya TV (run by Jayalalitha), is the alleged mouthpiece of AIADMK. Not surprising that both have been routinely spitting venom against each other. During the 2006 state assembly elections, if there were live campaigns after 8pm on Sun TV; Jaya TV screened special documentaries depicting Jayalalitha’s achievements. Though Jaya TV could not match Sun, both technically and penetration wise, it put up a tough fight. Now, ever since relations between Maran and Karunanidhi have soured, the DMK is busy flaunting its new mouthpiece ‘Kalaingar TV’.

PMK’s Makkal TV, DMK’s ‘Kalaingar TV’ & the Congress’ Mega TV and Vasanth TV all are gung-ho with political ambitions. The best part is that you can easily reach your target group’s living room; and slowly but steadily mould their thinking via an ostensibly neutral source. And if your channel really clicks, you additionally have a moolah minting machine at your disposal.

Agrees Rajat Sinha, media planner in a leading agency, “If you have a channel of your own, you can leverage a lot of in house synergies and it definitely becomes easy and more effective to promote your products and services.”

If you thought that the trend was limited to Tamil Nadu, think again. Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka are other states where launching television channels, promoted by party supporters is in vogue. In Kerala, ‘Kairali channel’ the mouthpiece of Communist Party of India (Marxist) had so far been the sole channel in this genre; until recently, when Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee launched its ‘Jaihind’. Overwhelmed by the response, the state Congress wing is planning another channel launch in Karnataka soon.

Not to be left behind, Karnataka’s CM, HD Karunaswamy too launched his own channel called ‘Kannada Kasturi’. In Andra Pradesh, the CM’s son, YS Jaganmohan Reddy has launched a Telugu news channel Indira TV. Apart from that there are VTV, Hyderabad TV and Telangana TV launched very recently. The trend has gradually begun to percolate across the rest of the country too. OTV in Orissa, PTC and Channel one in Punjab, and Total TV are a few other channels, backed by various politically aligned promoters.

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