In a surprise move, Rahul Kanwal, Senior Special Correspondent with TV Today Network, has been elevated to the post of Executive Producer to head the Headlines Today channel. He replaces S Srinivasan, who has quit the channel.
The three-year-old English news channel has not been performing too well with its TRP hovering at around 8, which is about one-third of the No. 1 English news channel NDTV 24x7. Even relatively new English news channels like CNN-IBN and Times Now have gone way ahead of Headlines Today. As such, Srinivasan, who had spent over six years with TV Today and was heading Headlines Today since its inception, is known to have been under tremendous pressure from the management to perform.
While Srinivasan’s exit was more or less predictable, the elevation of a much junior staffer, Kanwal, to the post of channel head has certainly surprised media watchers who consider it to be a bold move. Kanwal, who has spent over four years with TV Today, has proved his mettle as a young, dynamic anchor and reporter and is a recipient of the CNN Young Journalist Award.
Giving the rationale behind elevating Kanwal as channel head, TV Today Network CEO, G Krishnan, said, “Rahul has worked across functional areas of anchor, reporter and producer, and he has the right mix of aptitude and motivation. As Headlines Today caters to the younger audience, the management has decided to back a youngster to strengthen the product and lead the channel to the next phase of growth.”
Under its new head, Headlines Today has a challenging task ahead in competing with established channels like NDTV 24x7, CNN-IBN and Times Now, particularly when there is a general impression that Headlines Today is an offshoot of Aaj Tak and does not have a core team of reporters and lacks focus and a clear positioning.
Krishnan, however, defended it. “We have adopted a network strategy and hence, don’t look at competing with standalone channels. With the flagship brand Aaj Tak, we cater to a majority of news viewers. Headlines Today is for the youth and the metro urbanite. Tez is for the busy viewer who does not have time for detailed news bulletins. Dilli Aaj Tak has contributed in increasing the viewership base in Delhi. Thus, our primary objective is to consolidate our position as India’s number one news network by building differentiated product offerings from the network.”
Meanwhile, in order to refurbish Headlines Today, the management has planned new initiatives. Said Krishnan, “We have already adopted a programming strategy wherein we have taken the bold decision of slotting our programmes at the top of the hour. In addition, we will be unveiling some more initiatives like giving a completely new look to the channel that involves a new set, new packaging, etc.”