Janam TV, which has often faced criticism for their reportage, made a surprise entry in the top 5 list of Malayalam news channels.

In Kerala a right leaning channel soars in ratings on the back of Sabarimala standoffScreenshot: Janam TV
news Media Friday, November 02, 2018 - 11:30

The Sabarimala standoff seems to have benefited one particular news channel in Kerala, which has gained over four times their viewership in two weeks. Janam TV, a right leaning channel, was No. 2 in the rankings for Malayalam news channels in the week between October 20, 2018, and October 26, 2018, in Kerala. The channel, which was launched in 2015, suddenly gained in popularity in Week 42 and 43 – which is, between October 13 and 26, when the Sabarimala women’s entry issue flared up.

In fact, according to Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India data, while the impressions in the standard regional news target group for Week 41 for Janam TV was 7438, in Week 42, the impressions multiplied over thrice, to 24509. The standard target group for regional news for BARC is TG: 2+, which is, anyone above the age of 2 years.

Janam TV, which has often faced criticism for their reportage, that is seen as inflammatory by many, made a surprise entry in the top 5 list of Malayalam news channels in Week 42, and in Week 43, they climbed to the No. 2 spot, just below the popular Asianet News and above other equally popular channels like Mathrubhumi and Manorama News.

“One of the reasons for the increase in our viewership is because of our credibility. Especially for the ongoing Sabarimala issue, people tune into Janam TV because of our truthful reporting on the issue,” GK Suresh Babu, the Chief Editor of Janam TV told TNM.

But a closer inspection of the data shows that among men who are above the age of 22 (M 22+ AB) – which is considered the target group for English news channels – Janam TV has not made a significant dent, although their overall viewership has skyrocketed.

 

Janam TV impressions ‘000

Week 39   

2950

Week 40

4531

Week 41

7438

Week 42

24509

Week 43

32072

TG: Kerala 2+

 
(Data provided by BARC India to TNM)

Between Week 41 and Week 42, Asianet News doubled their viewership in this category. All the other channels, including Janam, also gained viewership – which, according to sources in BARC, points to an overall increase in news viewership of Malayalam news channels.

“The coverage of Sabarimala case has given a massive boost to viewership of Malayalam News channels in Week 42 and Week 43,” a source in BARC said.

However, in Week 43, it was only Janam TV that gained in the M 22+ AB viewership in both urban and rural areas, while all the other channels showed a decline. But Asianet News, Manorama, Mathrubhumi, People TV and News18 Kerala were on the Top 5 till Week 43 in this age group, which is M 22+ AB.

“During the last two days of the Sabarimala coverage, it was only Janam TV that was at the Sannidhanam – mainly because they were only ones taking a pro-right stand, and their journalists were the only ones who were not targeted,” an editor of a news channel said.

Another editor told TNM that the increased viewership of Janam TV is also because a lot of new audiences started watching news in those two weeks, especially women. “RSS and the Nair Service Society (NSS) had asked their cadre to watch Janam for the “true” version of events, which also increased their viewership a lot,” he said.

“And with unconfirmed and malicious reports about how Rehana had sanitary pads in her irumudikettu, their viewership increased among a large audience,” the editor said.

Janam TV, however, refuted that they gave any false news. “When our reporters asked Rehana Fathima about whether she was carrying sanitary napkins, she said that she does not have to tell us about all that, whereas she had told her BSNL friends that she had sanitary napkins," Suresh Babu said.

It is a known fact that a lot of news channels and newspapers in Kerala have a certain political stand, and most have always been left, or left-of-centre. An editor of a news channel told TNM, “It was always believed that a left, or left-of-centre stand works for a Kerala audience. With their significant breach into the Top 5, Janam TV has proved that perhaps even a right, or right-of-centre approach can work for news media in the state.” Janam TV was the only news outlet in Kerala which had taken a pro-devotee and pro-right stand in the Sabarimala issue.

However, another editor added that while Sabarimala issue provided an interesting twist to the media landscape in Kerala, the success of a right leaning media stance in the state will only be proved if Janam TV can retain and sustain this viewership.

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