India TV is determined to fight 2009 on a positive note. In a ‘town hall’ address to all its employees, the channel has made some key announcements that buck the otherwise slowdown trend seen in the industry. India TV’s Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, Rajat Sharma, asserted that 2009 would be one of the best years of the company. He also said that there would be no layoffs or pay cuts in India TV.
The address was made to over 400 employees at the Noida office, while the other bureaus were connected through phone lines and lease lines. Sharma also announced to his team that India TV would be launching two news channels and other media initiatives this year.
India TV spirits are clearly buoyant on the latest TAM data numbers, where the channel has scored higher than genre leader Aaj Tak in the last week. Sharma said that he was heartened by these numbers more than before, since most of the news stories of the channel that had brought in the ratings were hard news stories. He said that there were clear shifts in the audience viewing preference, and observed that “news is back” in the backdrop of the current scenario of the country that had severe economic, political and social implications.
In conversation with exchange4media, Sharma said, “The hunger for news in the viewer is back, and has been gaining ground, in the current scenario, especially in the wake of events such as the Mumbai terror attack. When I analysed what stories worked, some of the reports that have brought in the maximum ratings to the channel were PM’s operation, Mumbai Marathon and even reports like the Obama election coverage on the channel, or the US diplomatic initiatives by Pakistan, Satyam and SEBI, to name a few.”
“I do believe that this greed for hard news is here to stay; there is enough in this year that has led us to anticipate that. In the past, whenever India TV has done something, others have followed it, so I do think that there would be more serious news across channels this year,” he added.
India TV is perhaps one of the first names cited when allegations on frivolous reports giving importance is discussed. Would the channel continue with some of those kinds of stories? Sharma replied, “There is always a mood of what the people want.
Sometimes it is cricket, sometimes comedy or crime, but right now it is current affairs. The laughter shows on India TV have vanished, the number of astrology shows has reduced, and there is most definitely more emphasis is on the hard news.”