Important polls on schedule, EC to hire private company to track own media coverage

With no less than five state elections around the corner, the Election Commission is looking to hire a private agency to track the print, TV, digital and social media space for coverage of issues regarding electoral processes and the dog. guard of the ballot itself. The agency will prepare feedback reports based on its findings.

Sources in the government said this was the first time the Election Commission had hired a separate agency to monitor media coverage. A Request for Proposal (RFP) for this purpose has been issued by the public sector company Broadcast Engineering Consultants India limited (BECIL), which reports to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. Eligible businesses will need to submit their offers by November 30.

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In accordance with the RFP, the agency will have to closely monitor all major print, television and online media, as well as social media platforms and the foreign press on the coverage of the Election Commission and voting processes in different states. Based on this coverage, it should generate periodic sentiment analysis reports, categorizing the news stories or opinion pieces into positive, negative and neutral. This analysis can also be based on certain key words put forward by the EC.

In addition, the company will need to create an interactive dashboard for all platforms, where all this related content will be uploaded and can also display real-time notifications on developments related to surveys.

Why is such an agency necessary

The Election Commission’s efforts to seek comments on its decisions and other voting-related matters come against the backdrop of the polls in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand Goa and Manipur in the first half of this year. next year.

In the past, the poll watchdog has drawn criticism from various sides for its stance on alleged violations of electoral processes.

EC spokesperson Sheyphali Sharan told News18 that the reason the pollster would want to hire its own agency is because it needs timely feedback from the ground, especially from states. linked to the ballot. She said the list of publications or channels, including regional channels, will need to be adapted according to EC requirements.

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“The list would change periodically depending on which states go to the polls and it is not possible to meet EC requirements with the standard list from the Press Information Office,” she said.

She said that ministries like the MEA have feedback agencies exclusively tailored to their needs and that the EC also felt the need to have a specific agency tailored to their needs.

Earlier this year, the Election Commission asked the Madras High Court for an order to ban media from reporting oral submissions when hearing election-related cases. The Madras High Court refused to hear the petition. Subsequently, the Supreme Court also rejected an EC plea regarding the reporting of certain remarks made by the Madras High Court.

How the agency will operate

The company should analyze major national and vernacular newspapers and magazines, monitor national and regional TV news channels for reporting on EC issues and electoral processes. Based on this, he will have to prepare daily sentiment analysis reports for the EC, summarizing the reports and classifying them as positive, negative or neutral. It should also report the names of the authors of the reports and report specific concerns to the state, if any.

It will also closely follow EC information and survey processes on digital platforms, including online news portals, blogs, international magazines and social media, and use a good standard tool from the industry to prepare perception reports.

For online news platforms, comments would include coverage of relevant news published as well as social media posts by major influencers, including journalists and politicians. In accordance with the EC’s requirement, the agency will have to submit such reports several times during the election season.

The agency will have to set up a dashboard where all the monitored news will be available on a web portal protected by password. The portal should be able to provide real-time notifications and should facilitate the creation of print news kits and provide links for online and social media coverage for easy access.

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