Tuesday, April 21, 2009

BBC rides FM poll wagon with election capsules

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) flagged off its on air initiative across FM stations in India on 16 April, airing capsules that are 65 per cent Hindi, with the rest in English.

This week, it has introduced 'BBC Election Q&A', one minute capsules for raising awareness on the voting procedures, working of the voting machine, political system etc. BBC World Service India FM Desk Editor Rashika Kaul says, "It is a brain teaser to create curiosity about the electoral process and empowering the listeners with information delivered in an engrossing style." BBC Election Q&A started airing from 13 April and has slots three times a day, during the morning and evening drive time and during the day.

Already on air from 16 April, the second capsule, 'BBC Ek din ka pradhan mantri' is aired four times a day and showcases people from different spheres. "It would be short, crisp, impactful programming featuring people from diverse sections of society expressing their actions if they were prime minister for a day. The key of this capsule is the diversity in the people involved." BBC Ek din ka pradhan mantri also has film stars, journalists, IIM students, housewives, cab drivers, celebs like Javed Akhtar, Aamir Khan and Rahul Bose.

BBC has worked with Indian Railways to design a timetable for the 'BBC Express' project where BBC reporters will travel across India. The train will travel along the following route: Delhi-Ahmedabad-Mumbai-Hyderabad-Bhubaneswar-Kokata-Patna-Allahabad-Dehli. Covering areas across provincial towns and rural areas, BBC's global audience will get to hear the views of a wide range of Indian voters.

Says Kaul, "Apart from being a publicity exercise for BBC, it is an interesting concept of connecting to the real India. As news is not permitted on radio, there won't be any serious issues discussed but quizzing on the electoral process, constituencies etc." Aired four times a day, the RJs on the journey will be linked live to the radio station carrying BBC capsules. Starting from 25th April, BBC Express will be a month long segment covering elections.

The election capsules would be aired across all stations of Radio One, regional FM stations like Radio Choklate (Bubhaneshwar, Rourkela), Radio Chaska (Gwalior), Radio Tadka (Udaipur, Jaipur), Radio Tomato (Kolhapur), Radio Rangeela, and Radio Misty (Siliguri).

Apart from India, it will be broadcasted in six frequencies of World band Radio across Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Jose, Washington etc. Quizzed about the listenership of Indian election broadcast internationally, Kaul verifies, "World Band Media has many south asian listeners who are interested in keeping a tab on the election scenario in India. The capsules aired in the US would be similar to the slots in India."

Online users will be able to track the journey of the train through a special interactive map and a daily blog available on the BBC's India Election webpage www.bbc.com/india.


(Jaisakthivel, Chennai,India)

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