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Wednesday, April 26, 2006 

The Irrelevant SMS Polls

All News channels have hit upon the new source of revenue: SMS Polls. Everyday there is a poll on one of the top stories of the day on each channel. In fact on many a channels, there is a show, that actually goes around what is the response of the people. But other than being sources of revenue for these channels, do these polls hold any significance?

Some of the questions asked by the polls such that people can vote in just one way. Look at this question: Should Rahul Gandhi assume a greater responsibility in Congress? Now be it a supporter, or a detractor of Rahul Gandhi, he would vote in the affirmative. If Rahul Gandhi isn’t going to take more responsibility in the Congress, why the hell is he there for?

Yet other questions are completely open to interpretation. Consider this question asked on one of the News channels: Will Rahul Gandhi’s presence make a difference to Congress in UP? Well it all depends on what does one mean by difference. If they mean that Congress gets a few more seats, then the answer would be yes. If it means Congress becomes a major force in the UP Vidhan Sabha, No. (That’s too much for Rahul Gandhi to achieve, even though the media would like to attribute god like powers to him.)

I have been a critic of “Don’t Know/Can’t Say” (DKCS) option in polls. If you don’t have an opinion, why vote? However, there are times when it is the best resort. Some of the questions raised are such that only experts can have the answer. At such times one can use the DKCS option. If a large number of people vote in this fashion, it is equivalent to making the statement to the poll holder that the general public doesn’t understand the complexity of the issue. According to me all answers to the polls on nuclear deal between India and US should have been DK/CS.

And how does one ensure that the votes form a good sample set? There has always been this controversy on SMS polls, as one person is allowed more than one vote. So a person who feels strongly about the issue (or has his mobile bills paid by his company) may vote multiple times, while others may not. How then, can that poll hold any significance?

All in all, these polls are revenue generation tools for news companies. I don’t think even the news channels take their polls seriously.

Not just news channels... This sms polling is generating huge revenues for all channels... include all singer hunt n talent hunt shows...

And its not a genuine indicator, since u never know how many are actually admirers n supporters...

A person shold be allowed to vote only once like during elections.

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