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"Zee Hindustan’s poll programming will be fact-driven from the ground"

Zee Hindustan is planning a special inside-out coverage for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections. The channel will organise canter activity, which will go to different cities of Uttar Pradesh before the elections. Apart from canter activity and reporting from various places across UP, the channel is also encouraging viewers to send in their videos on various civic and societal issues, which will be aired on the channel. Zee Hindustan  will be targeting all 75 districts of Uttar Pradesh with 7-8 anchors spread across the state for the next 45 days.

In conversation with Adgully, Purushottam Vaishnava, CEO, ZEE Hindustan, speaks about the channel’s plans to cover the upcoming assembly elections in five states, with a special emphasis on the UP elections, their strategy to engage the viewers and much more.

How are you planning to cover the UP elections, what is your poll coverage strategy? How will be your content strategy?

Zee Hindustan lives by its values of being a nationalist news channel and bringing the ground insights to the nation. For the upcoming assembly election in five states, we will be traveling across districts of all these states, checking the pulse on ground and doing extensive reporting from all 403 constituencies with special programming lined up. We will focus on bringing the real insights from the five states; and with UP being the most volatile, it will be at the centre of our election programming.

What is the kind of programming that you plan to do? How many people will be involved in the overall coverage? 

Our election programming is going to be fact-driven from the ground, our army of reporters will be on ground in different districts of the election-bound states. We have lined up a series of new shows, starting with ‘UP Se Ram Ram’, our morning show where we give the top 6 stories of the day related to the elections. Another new show is ‘UP @ 403’, which gives an insight on all 403 constituencies. Our battalion of 90 reporters will be covering all the constituencies through our extensive reporting with biggest faces interview for our election coverage. Some other differentiated format shows include ‘UP Bol Raha Hai’, ‘Tractor Par Reporter’, ‘UP Me Dharamyudh’, ‘Chunavi Wali Nav’. All these shows are special shows with a very innovative format for our viewers.

Have you planned any theme for the elections, what will be the core of this campaign?

All elections campaigns are defined by the issues at the core of those constituencies. The themes are defined by the constituents who are at the heart of the issues. ‘UP Ka Yudh’ is the main programming, though the elections are in five different states, But Uttar Pradesh being the most populated and politically dominant state, it makes it the heart of the whole electoral campaign. With 80 Parliamentary seats, we have at least one reporter designated for seat, getting us the pulse of the state and feel on the ground.

We have seen the coverage going on ground in the past years, with the new omicron variant and cases increasing, how do you plan the coverage and safety of your crew?

All norms and protocols are maintained, our anchors always urge our audiences on the ground to keep on their masks and maintain distancing, anchors on air also request viewers to not lower their guards. Our reporters are our warriors fighting to get the news from all district and mobile areas to the nation.

UP being a huge state, how do you plan to cover everything and what difference will we see this year?

As we mentioned, Uttar Pradesh is at the heart of our election coverage. With our new innovative format shows we are bringing 360 degree coverage of the elections. Being one of the few news channel with reporters covering all the 80 parliamentary seats in UP and our show ‘UP @ 403’ brings real time daily updates from all constituencies.

What has been the viewership for the previous state elections, how do you plan to increase it this year?

In the last Bengal state elections the response of the audience has been phenomenal.  The feedback on our social media along other digital mediums has made us believe that the viewers are accepting our new format of election shows and our Youtube numbers back this claim.

It's been more than a year since BARC suspended news channel ratings, do you think this is going to impact the advertisers interest? Do you see larger channels garnering more as revenue than the smaller/ regional channels?

National news channel has a larger reach over regional news channel and advertisers with an objective to reach to a larger audience prefer national news channel. For brands which have a specific regional target audience and budget limitation will prefer regional channels but the competition is much fiercer in that market. It is difficult to sustain as the largest fish in a small pond. We have been one of the few channels that has adapted to YouTube as a measurement, we have been in top 2 for the past years. Every breaking event coverage gets high live viewership which proves that Zee Hindustan with its short span of existence has gained popularity other than linear mediums.

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