As TV channels ignore, Anna Hazare followers turn to the Web for live coverage

Even as mainstream media has adopted a wait-and-watch approach towards the ‘second round’ anti-corruption agitation by Team Anna, a little-known live streaming website is catching on in popularity due to the agitation.

Granslive, a little known web-streaming service, has seen tens of thousands of users log on in an effort to watch live Anna Hazare’s protests at Jantar Mantar.

The event broadcasting website broadcasts Anna Hazare’s Jantar Mantar protests every day from 11:30 am till the evening.

The live feed was being watched only by about 900 people in the initial few hours when Hazare began his protest on Wednesday. By the evening, the number of simultaneous viewers swelled to about 4,000.

Assuming that an average person watches for only about half an hour, it would seem that about 30,000-50,000 viewers watched Team Anna’s protest fast live on the site on the first day.

On Thursday, the numbers had swelled to 11,000 by noon, implying that about 1.75 lakh people tuned in on the day (assuming an average viewing duration of half an hour.)

Granslive, which was being primarily used for streaming weddings and corporate workshops, provides complete coverage of events using their cameras and uplinking equipment.

The Web coverage may have also shown the direction in which media coverage is going to evolve in the future, especially for politically sensitive or niche events such as protests and sports.

Politicians had criticized TV channels for their blanket coverage of Hazare’s protests last year. According to them, Hazare’s protests became the biggest the country has seen since mid 1970s only because of the TV coverage.

Television channels, including both English and regional ones, had been broadcasting the marathon 12-day fast on a continuous basis, partly due to the lack of anything else to cover and partly due to the prevalent anti-corruption sentiment among the people.

The months preceding Anna Hazare’s initial fast were rocked by a series of scams and scandals involving various ministries and figures in the government.

Fueled by live television coverage, the protests spread across the country and saw participation from millions of agitated Indians. The government was soon forced to give in to the demands of the protesters to have a strong anti-corruption ombudsman set up soon.

However, a year on, the Lokpal, as the body is to be known, is no closer to being set up than it was when Anna Hazare broke his fast after the Parliament of India passed a resolution promising a Lokpal.

The episode also led to considerable back-and-forth between the government and TV channels.