Aarushi’s story bigger hit than cricket on TV
Everyone is in the grip of Aarushi frenzy, lapping up every bit of information coming their way in the murder case, suggest television viewership data compiled from homes across India’s heartland.
The data show that people are more interested to know about who killed the Noida schoolgirl, than watch an IPL cricket match or Bollywood big draws Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan on TV.
News channels have reported a jump in their viewership ever since the news of the murder broke, possibly India’s biggest crime story after the Nithari serial killing case of 2006.
On May 23, the day Aarushi’s father Rajesh Talwar was arrested and police claimed it to be an honour killing, the TRP — the viewership-measuring instrument — of Hindi and English news channels was higher than the IPL match between Mohali and Hyderabad.
Five top Hindi news channels had cumulative TRP of over one point as compared to 0.96 for the IPL match, says aMAP, a company that rates television programmes. Television Audience Measurement (TAM), another company in the business of TRP but with a different methodology, gave the news channels close to nine points as compared to 7.5 for the IPL match.
Rights activists said the high TRPs could have been also due to unnecessary sensationalism of the case created by some insensitive reporting.
Some channels went berserk after Meerut IGP Gurdarshan Singh made the sensational claim on TV that Aarushi and Hemraj were killed by Rajesh Talwar because he had found them in an “objectionable but not compromising” position. They even suggested questions that showed Aarushi’s character in poor light. “The television channels conducted media trial of Aarushi, who was not there to defend herself. It would have got them higher TRPs but did a lot of harm to the young soul,” said Bharati Ali of HAQ for Child Rights, an NGO.
For the news channels, it all started on May 16, when the news of the murder broke.
According to TAM, the TRP of Hindi news channels jumped about two points. The jump was confirmed by aMAP too. The head of a Hindi news channel said the Aarushi case was single most important factor for the jump. “To me, the only difference in the news content during the period was the Aarushi murder case. All that news channels ran around the clock was programmes on the twin murder case and that fetched high TRP,” he said.
Sabhyata Arora, a child physiologist at NGO Pratidhi, said the reason why everyone is hooked to the Aarushi story was that it has something for parents as well as children.
“Parents wanted to know about the relationship between a child and parents in an influential family. Children were interested to see what was happening to their peer group,” she said.
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