India tunes in for Jacko news

Jackson death draws more viewers than Obama inauguration

NEW DELHI -- Over 12.5 million viewers in India tuned in to English news channels to follow events following Michael Jackson's death.

According to a specially commissioned survey by ratings agency TAM Media, Jackson's passing garnered a million more viewers than Barack Obama's swearing-in ceremony in January, which was seen by 11.5 million viewers on the English channels.

The TAM survey, which gives the consolidated viewership figure of all English channels, indicates that viewership climbed from 8.1 million viewers the previous day (June 25 local time).

Although the local language news channels were not covered by the special survey -- regular TAM data for May suggests that Hindi-language news channels had 3.5% viewership share compared with English channels' 0.5% -- Hindi channels have been equally full of Jackson news. They had the dramatic news on heavy rotation and put together special Jackson packages. Coverage and audiences are expected to rise Tuesday at the time of the memorial service.

In addition to BBC World and CNN, there are four major Indian-owned English news channels: New Delhi Television (NDTV, in which NBC Universal has a 26% stake); CNN-IBN (a joint venture between Turner and the Network18 group); Headlines Today (owned by the India Today group); and Times Now (owned by The Times of India).