Chiru – the TRP spinner

BY s r ramanujan| IN Regional Media | 06/09/2008
The non-stop Chiranjeevi show is capturing TV audiences across Andhra Pradesh, leaving little space for the actor-turned-politician’s rivals,

Telugu megastar Chiranjeevi might have  made a melodramatic entry into politics when he held a rally at Tirupati on August 26. His critics might say that this 90 minute speech was quite "filmy" and there were no signs of political maturity in Scene One, while his lakhs of fans might have felt right at home. Among the political class, some are happy while most are having nightmares. They are reminded of the havoc that the late NT Rama Rao played in the political battlefield of Andhra Pradesh in the eighties. But, without exception, the 24 hour Telugu news channels have every reason to be ecstatic over the political entry of Chiranjeevi, for they found Chiru to be a TRP spinner.


Chiranjeevi made his first public appearance before the news media 10 days before the rally, just to make an official announcement that he was planning to don the role of a politician in real life (he had played many such roles in his reel life). Even so, the Telugu television media had gone gaga over it and all the news channels in Andhra Pradesh telecast the press conference live followed by never-ending talk shows. Till then, the media had a field-day running speculative stories about Chiru’s possible political arangetram, showing his actor brothers and brother-in-law in action preparing for the mega star’s political party.


There were astrological predictions too whether his party would be a block-buster or not.


When the D-day came on 26 August, nothing else was happening in the world for the Telugu news channels except the mega show in Tirupati. Though it was billed as an ‘evening show, the channels began with a morning show and it went on till midnight as a non-stop performance. The who’s who of Telugu journalism were in the news studios since afternoon to speculate on what could be the final script of Chiranjeevi’s political party, its name, flag etc., since the actor had kept everything under wraps for the climax scene. Viewers were given every bit of information, like where Chiranjeevi was staying, how he had bolted himself alone inside a room to rehearse his speech, where his family members were, children missing from the audience, etc.


Intermittently, in order not to lose eye-balls, there were numerous film clips from his hit movies.


This overkill did not go in vain. The TRPs of all the Telugu news channels almost trebled on 26 August. According to TAM reports for the day, TV9 topped with 9.97 followed by NTV with 8.31, ETV2 8.18 and TV5 3.37 under the CS male 15+ category in Hyderabad city. The state averages also were almost in the same ratio under CS male 15+ category. TV9 had a channel share of 11.78, followed by NTV with 8.53, ETV 8.04 and TV5 3.10.


Interestingly, for the week from 24 to 30 August, excluding the rating for the 26th, the ratings for the remaining six days would, in contrast, demonstrate the magic of the Chiru Show. TV9 had 3.93, ETV2 2.81, NTV 1.70 and TV5 1.94 for the Hyderabad city under the CS male 15+ category. For the entire state as a market, TV9 had 4.04, ETV 2.38, NTV 1.54 and TV5 1.61. More or less, the same trend was seen in the preceding week, i.e. 17/8 to 23/8. TV9’s TRP for Hyderabad city was 4.99, followed by ETV2 (2.91), TV 5 (2.46) and NTV (1.81). For the entire AP region, again TV9 topped with 4.89, leaving others way behind. ETV had a TRP of 2.70, TV5 2.08, and NTV 1.70.


While TV9 was consistent in maintaining its top position in all segments, one year old NTV outsmarted TV9 under CS4+ and CS Female 15+ in one million plus centres.





 CS 4 +         


CS Female 15 +







TV 9                                                                       










TV 5                                         






While NTV was oscillating between 3rd and 4th position in the preceding weeks, it could catapult itself to the 2nd position on Chiru’s Praja Rajyam launch day with an exclusive interview, the first ever political interview given to any media outlet, just prior to the launch function. To retain the viewers for the whole day, the channel ran teasers from the interview from 26th morning, and it paid the channel ample dividends.


The sole loser in the TRP game was Gemini News – a 24 hour news channel from the Sun network stable which considers itself the market leader in the south. Its ratings ranged from 0.01 in the Hyderabad city to 0.54 in the state.  For reasons best known to its promoters, Gemini News has always been a neglected baby, as is the case with other south Indian language news channels of the Sun network, except its Tamil news bulletins in Sun TV (GEC) which are money spinners. Even in Sun TV Tamil, no special care is taken for the look of its anchors or for their clothes. On festival days, it is difficult to distinguish news anchors – bedecked with all sorts of jewelry – from the looks of a bride.


Well, the battle for TRPs is not going to stop with the launch function. The news channels have tasted blood and they know what Chiranjeevi means to TRPs. Self-appointed president of Praja Rajyam, Chiranjeevi has already announced that he will undertake a tour of Andhra Pradesh from 17 September, and the news channels are gearing up for the mega star’s yatra with additional OB vans to follow him throughout the tour. This has provoked the other political parties to complain that there will be no level playing field before the 2009 elections if the news channels, lured by TRPs, are going to give 24x7 coverage to the actor-turned politician.


However, what could save the day for the Congress is the expected launch of Sakshi TV before the elections. Chief Minister Y S Rajasekara Reddy’s son Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy is the chairman of the channel and it is expected to do the bidding of the Congress and more so the chief minister. Shrewd politician that Rajasekara Reddy is, he saw to it that short ad films of the government’s welfare programmes – with himself as the focal point – were carried repeatedly in all the news channels on 26 August when the Chiru show was on.


TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu, whose ranks are getting depleted, has to scout for a channel since ETV does not appear to be too keen to back him and its preference seems to be the new star in the Telugu political firmament. And Ramoji Rao, chairman of ETV is reportedly of the opinion that it is only Chiranjeevi who can take on his arch rival YSR and eliminate him from the political scene so that he can breathe easy.    




Subscribe To The Newsletter
The new term for self censorship is voluntary censorship, as proposed by companies like Netflix and Hotstar. ET reports that streaming video service Amazon Prime is opposing a move by its peers to adopt a voluntary censorship code in anticipation of the Indian government coming up with its own rules. Amazon is resisting because it fears that it may alienate paying subscribers.                   

Clearly, the run to the 2019 elections is on. A journalist received a call from someone saying they were from Aajtak channel and were conducting a survey, asking whom she was going to vote for in 2019. On being told that her vote was secret, the caller assumed she wasn't going to vote for 'Modiji'. The caller, a woman, also didn't identify herself. A month or two earlier the same journalist received a call, this time from a man, asking if she was going to vote for the BSP.                 

View More