IAA Conversations: Do Opinion Polls and Media Reports Influence Voters?

IAA Conversations - Kumar Ketkar, Ram Naik, Sanjay Jha and Prem Shukla

IAA Conversations: Do Opinion Polls and Media Reports Influence Voters?

The International Advertising Association (IAA) India Chapter conducted a panel discussion on the topic ‘Do Opinion Polls and Media Reports Influence Voters?’ on Thursday, April 10 at the Nehru Centre, Mumbai.

Former petroleum minister and senior BJP leader Mr Ram Naik, veteran editor and political analyst Mr Kumar Ketkar, Congress spokesperson Mr Sanjay Jha and Shiv Sena spokesperson Mr Prem Shukla participated in the discussion that was moderated by Mr Anand Rathi, Chairman, Anand Rathi Securities.

Mr Prem Shukla started the discussion by saying, “Media has ably helped in foreseeing the future in this democratic country and now it is in the position to tear any political parties’ manifesto into pieces unlike earlier times where they would just comment and move on.” He further added that the media does help people in forming an opinion about any party but the party gets accepted only after it proves its capabilities. Media, being the Fourth Estate, has a very important role to play in a democracy and especially at these times when the Lok Sabha Elections are being held, Mr Shukla said.

However, Mr Sanjay Jha, was very disappointed with the Indian electronic media and said: “I want to say that the media has failed India as every day people feel that they are heading towards darkness after watching all the 9 pm news shows. This is because of the fact that nobody talks about the development in the country. Of course, there’s corruption, inequality but you can’t overlook the growth and the change in the country.”
Said Mr Ram Naik: “There are different types of media and various information being hammered on the voters. Media can only provide information but it can’t direct thoughts. Earlier it used to happen through newspapers, but now it doesn't.”

According to Mr Kumar Ketkar, the role of media is “to inform, entertain, educate, lead and to mislead”. “While entertaining, they create issues which are absolutely not relevant. What Raj Thackeray says about Uddhav Thackeray has no national relevance in the Lok Sabha elections.” However, Mr Ketkar asserted that the media cannot be ignored. “Even if they are misleading, they should be allowed to mislead in the democracy and you should challenge them.”

Raising a question mark on opinion polls, Mr Jha said: “I had raised a question when the sting operations were carried on these agencies who conduct opinion polls. Why don’t channels take responsibility? I think they should as at the end, a commoner trusts a channel.”

Earlier, Srinivasan Swamy, President IAA India Chapter & Vice President, Development Asia Pacific region of IAA welcomed the panellists and the moderator and explained how events like these are keeping in line with the IAA’s objective of discussing and deliberating on issues currently being debated by the industry and the public at large.

According to Dr Bhaskar Das, Group CEO, Zee Media Corp Limited and Chair of the event: “A panel discussion can only serve its objectives if you invite the right people and we took care to get an excellent mix of voices.”

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