With Punya Prasoon Bajpai, former Channel Head of Sahara Samay, joining as Consulting Editor, Zee News is all set for a relaunch, repositioning itself as a serious and sensible news channel. Bajpai, a well-known political and news anchor, has been specially inducted to add punch to the new direction that Zee News would be taking following its relaunch. He would be directly reporting to Group Editor, BV Rao.
Confirming this development to exchange4 media, Rao said that Bajpai would be anchoring prime time weekday news separately in addition to the other Consulting Editor, Alka Saxena, who is already doing prime time news besides doing a weekend hard talk show/debate. “He will also be the face of Zee News for the election coverage,” Rao added.
He further said that besides Bajpai, three more consultants had been taken on board to add gravity to news. Manisha Priyam, a Delhi University professor and London School of Economics graduate, has been appointed as public policy advisor. She would be the research and analysis backbone to the programmes on elections, budget and other public policy issues. Anupam Goswami, a noted business journalist, has joined as Consulting Editor for business news. Meanwhile, a top retired cop is also being hired as advisor on public security issues.
All these consultants are being put in place before the relaunch of Zee News, which is scheduled for later this week. According to Rao, the revamped and new look channel would return to hard core serious news with focus on reporters and reporting, heralding the comeback of channel’s news properties. “Our weekly news shows ‘Inside Story’, an investigative programme and ‘Special Correspondent’, a hardcore programme on field reporting, would be back on the channel. So, would the daily prime time ‘Metro News’,” Rao added.
He further informed that Zee News would add four new properties – a reporter-based weekly show; ‘Halla Bol’, a soft investigative programme on public issues; ‘Kahiye Janab’, a talk show featuring VIP, which would be hosted by Swati Chaturvedi. Bajpai would do a hard talk show, while a daily religious news and spiritual wellness programme, ‘Manthan’, is also being introduced.
A number of daily shows on the channel are being rebranded in line with the new channel positioning. The daily Bollywood show, ‘Bole to Bollywood’, will be renamed ‘Zee Multiplex’ to give it a modern touch. The show ‘Miyan Biwi aur TV’ will now be called ‘House Arrest - Serial ki Grifat Mein’. Astrology show ‘Bachke Rehna’ will have a new face in the form of Tarrot card reader Ruchira along with astrologer Sandeep Kochar.
The entire relaunch exercise is not just about introducing new shows and revamping the existing ones. It is also about phasing out a TRP driver show like ‘Kaal Kapaal Mahakaal’. Said Rao, “We want to respect the intelligence of our viewers and bring back a semblance of news. For that, we will also be very selective in giving breaking news. For the last couple of years, reporting had disappeared from news channels and news had literally become cut and paste entertainment. We want to put an end to commodification of news and bring back the glory of hard core news.”
“We are completely overhauling our sets along with improved graphics, headlines, fonts and effects, and using soft pastel colours to give a cool and confident look to the channel,” Rao further said.
With so much in store, it remains to be see whether Zee News would be able to climb up the TRP ladder. Rao is quite confident about that. He asserted, “We are No. 4 in TRP ratings and in the last four months, we have been able to improve our market share by 10-14 per cent. Now, by doing sensible and sensitive news, we will be able to further improve our market share substantially to race to the top slot.”
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