All those glued to TV news channels would have surely come across the new kid on the block, Namo TV. The channel, which has the image of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the logo, airs his election speeches 24/7, and propagates various policy initiatives that he has taken. All major DTH platforms are hosting the channel. Although the BJP had tweeted about the channel's launch from its official Twitter handle, it is intriguing that there is absolutely no information about its owner. In fact, its name does not figure in the list of permitted private satellite TV channels on the website of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Besides, agencies such as BARC India do not measure its viewership. Is NaMo TV really a licensed satellite TV channel?
"It should have the license to operate, else it won't be on satellite platforms. Since it's backed by the government, it must have got licenses overnight," says a senior media expert, who believes the Namo TV is the BJP's publicity mouthpiece and would go off air as soon as elections are over. In fact, this is not the first time the Modi camp has launched a news channel on the eve of elections. In 2007, during state assembly election in Gujarat, the Modi camp had launched a channel called, Vande Gujarat. Again, in 2012, the state BJP unit had collaborated with five Gujarati channels to broadcast NaMo TV, and the then party spokesperson had said that they had launched the channel to counter the fallacious campaigns of their rivals.
As per a recent report by media analytics company, Chrome DM, Namo TV already had a reach of 37 per cent in a span of just two days. Its reach is slightly lower than that of NDTV India, which is 43 per cent. "It is common for political parties to launch news channels during elections. They find it an effective way of communicating their ideologies in order to gain people's confidence. The distribution of these channels is done wisely to keep in touch with their followers," points out Pankaj Krishna, CEO, Chrome DM.
Another satellite news channel, Tiranga TV, backed by Congress leader, Kapil Sibal was launched in January this year. The channel, which has on board TV journalists Barkha Dutt and Karan Thapar, has managed a reach of 32 per cent, as per the Chrome study. Most general elections see the emergence of scores of unlicensed regional news channels backed by political parties. These are mostly aired on local cable networks. "If you go to some of these regional markets, you will find even kirana store owners running a news channel. Dig deeper and you find local politicians backing the particular channel," says this senior media expert. India is known to have as many as 350 unlicensed channels that come alive mostly during elections.
The Aam Admi Party has written to Election Commission asking if the launch of Namo TV is in adherence with the Model Code of Conduct and if indeed BJP has all the necessary approvals to launch a channel.