There will be a lot of focus on digital endeavours, which will continue post the elections. Going forward, there are plans to push the News 24 channel internationally. We have already started beaming the channel in the Middle East region... Our focus is going to be the US and Canada, wherever there are Indian viewers.
Anurradha Prasad, Chairperson and Managing Director, B.A.G. Films and Media has positioned her organisation as one of the top production houses in Delhi and Mumbai with her broad experience and business acumen.
After completing a Master’s degree in Political Science from Delhi University Prasad ventured into the media industry with an assignment in business magazine, ‘Money Matters’. The year 1993, saw Prasad creating the means to realise her dreams. That year, she launched B.A.G Films & Media (then known as B.A.G Films). With an investment of Rs 40,000 and a two-bedroom apartment in New Delhi to commence operations, it was a modest beginning for B.A.G Films & Media. The going was tough, but Prasad continued to work, conceptualising, devising and executing programmes never compromising on their quality or content.
In conversation with exchange4media’s Abid Hasan, Prasad speaks at length about programming around the Lok Sabha elections, content strategy for News 24, expectations from BARC and more...
Q. What are the trends that you see in the news broadcasting space this year?
One thing that I have seen is that anybody and everybody wants say things without being sure. I think it’s more of guerrilla news that is happening – people just come, talk and get the news, there is nothing to substantiate what is being said. This is somehow impacting the credibility of news. At B.A.G., we are very careful about the news that we do and stand by it.
Q. What role do you expect the general elections of 2014 to play for the news broadcasting industry as far as advertising is concerned?
Obviously, the advertisers will look at how the scenario is going to be post the declaration of the poll results. If you look at the business, advertising is dependent on marketing business sentiment; if business will work, then advertising will work.
Q. What percentage of revenue increase you are expecting from election advertising?
I am not putting any percentage figures, but I know for sure that my advertisers are happy and my accounts people are happy. I am no putting any numbers, but I am expecting good numbers because it’s peak time as far as news is concerned.
Q. What are your plans post the elections?
There will be a lot of focus on digital endeavours, which will continue post the elections. Going forward, there are plans to push the News 24 channel internationally. We have already started beaming the channel in the Middle East region and then going ahead, will be pushing it in other countries as well.
Q. Can we expect News 24 to go global five years down the line?
Of course, that’s the way forward, but there’s a long way to go. Right now, we have just launched News 24 and E24 in Dubai, and we are reaching to a number of Middle East countries. Our focus is going to be the US and Canada, wherever there are Indian viewers.
Q. How are you breaking through the clutter in news programming?
Our programming is very clear; we are following our brand and what the brand caters to every Indian. It’s inclusive and the programming is very people- oriented, hence viewers are able to relate to the programming very well. The voice of the people is most important. We don’t do any biased reporting and are very pro people.
Q. What are your expectations from BARC?
We want BARC to happen fast because it’s the industry’s voice with an industry-oriented routine. I am sure it’s going in the right direction, so the expectation is that it should work and become functional at the earliest with a scientific base. It should work with all the due diligence that one expects from it.
Q. There are chances that TAM might survive post the elections. Will you go for TAM or BARC?
I cannot say what will happen post the elections, but whatever the industry norm says, we will follow. I think having a two ratings system is good and I am okay with it as it will increase the credibility of ratings. TAM will also upgrade itself.
Q. So, do you consider a double currency as a boon for the industry?
I think it’s a boon. I always see the glass half full.
Q. Are you okay with implementing the ad cap if the High Court gives its decision in TRAI’s favour?
If everybody is okay with it, then I have no other choice. But I think the way the whole thing is going, it needs a relook. It’s a 17-year old law, which has no base today. When it was made, there were hardly any channels and advertising was not like that the way it is now, thus the law need to be upgraded.
Q. What are the key focus areas for B.A.G. in 2014?
The entire focus of our network is election-related programming, how to move up the scale and how to push forward the brand. There is nothing else that we are focusing on till the middle of this year. Post the elections, the focus will be on how do we move to push the packet for the network. But right now, the election is the biggest festival of democracy, especially for a news channel.