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RP Sathyanarayanan

President | 06 Jul 2012

We don’t want to be a television news channel which gives news of its own interest and delivers news of what others are doing it. Fresh news in a neutral form and delivering it in an unbiased way is in itself a niche way. We try to look at every aspect of the news and get into the minds of the people.

Dr RP Sathyanarayanan is the President of Tamil news channel Puthiya Thalaimurai, which reached a turnover of about Rs 100 crore within a year of its of launch. In 2009, he started a news magazine called ‘Puthiya Thalaimurai’, this venture led him to venture into the news television space with an aim to deliver unbiased news.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Deepa Balasubramanian, Sathyanarayanan speaks at length about Puthiya Thalamurai’s inception, the journey so far, its achievements and the commitment to unbiased news.

Q. Since Puthiya Thalamurai’s inception how has this channel grown?

Ever since we entered the market, we have been giving people what they wanted and have remained neutral by providing unbiased news. Delivering the right news to the people and also getting the opinion of the people and changing the way of delivering the news are what made us achieve this huge success. As a media operation, we have been in existence for three years. I think with our core value of ‘staying neutral’ has brought to us the No. 1 position.

Q. How do you differentiate your channel from other regional channels?

We started this channel because there was not a single channel in Tamil Nadu that gave what the people wanted. Every channel had their own political interests and they showed only what they wanted. Hence, our channel is unique as we do not support any political interests; we believe in just one thing – delivering neutral and credible news. We also believe in having everything live and nothing recorded as we believe recorded shows are edited and shown only according to the channel’s interest.

Q. What made you launch Puthiya Thalaimurai when there are already so many channels working for the same purpose?

I started a weekly magazine in 2009 called ‘Puthiya Thalaimurai’ and then launched an education magazine named ‘Karka Kasadara’ (Learn Properly), which provides information on personality development, entrance examinations, etc, for students just out of schools. I then felt there was a gap between the news and the people and wanted to bridge this gap by providing neutral and credible news. News will be credible only when we show it live, without editing.

So we came into the media industry with no power and no support from any political group. We will always be the way we started, with one objective in mind – get live coverage and show whatever is happening. No editing should be done.

Q. In the coming years how do you plan to grow and develop the channel?

As I have already said, being neutral and honest and delivering the same as news will make us grow more. We never expected to reach the No. 1 position within 60 days of our launch. When we have achieved a lot. Not we need to plan for penetrating deeper into the Tamil Nadu market.

Q. What are your plans for 2012?

Had I not started with the magazine, I wouldn’t have thought of entering in the media profession. We have extended our hands to delivering news regionally, now we plan to go national and international. We want to enter the international market by sending our reporters abroad and covering the news internationally since Tamilians are spread across the world. Thus going international is our next aim and thought and we have started implementing this plan.

Q. How do you plan to maintain viewer stickiness?

We have always tried to show the truth and deliver what people want. ‘Be loyal and show true and transparent news’ has guided our channel’s thought and this is how we have has reciprocated to the people’s trust and faith. I think this will always give us an edge and keep the viewers with us.

Q. Could you tell us about some of the breaking news that your channel has done?

The Sri Lanka Resolution is an example. We had reporters on the spot and we were the first to get hold of the news. Our footage was taken from some of the national channels as well. The Thane cyclone and Vishwanath Anand’s recent win was first shown on our channel. We are sending our reporters to the London Olympics as well.

Q. How do you see the different approach of reporting on global issues in English and Tamil news channels?

My perspective of looking at regional and national channels is very different. I feel regional channels reflect the sentiments of the region. On the other hand, I believe that as a citizen we have to manage the delivery of news in a very neutral way, but that is not reflected at the national level many times. I see a gap in national media.

Q. There are more of young talent in your organisation. Do you think media colleges are training the youth to match the industry’s expectations?

Very few colleges actually do that. If we go into the technical aspect of it, the young people have no training; they get to learn only after entering a media house. This is a drawback and I would suggest the colleges to look into the training aspect. Apart from technicality, this is a field where everyday you get to learn new things, as each day is different.

Q. Tell us more about your magazines and their reach.

From its inception, ‘Puthiya Thalaimurai’ has had a reach of 1 lakh every week. We then started ‘Puthiya Thalamurai Kalvi’, a supplement dedicated to education, employment and job opportunities. We have another magazine called ‘Karaka Kasadara’ (Learn Properly), which has a readership of 1.5 lakh.

Q. Please elaborate on your marketing stratergies.

We have no major strategies as such. There is just one thing – reach out to as many people as possible by delivering the truth and not by planning and thinking.

Q. Sources say you are going to launch an English channel. Could you share with us some insight on the same?

Yes, we will have an English channel headquartered in Chennai, with a super bureau in Delhi. It will be launched in 2013. The aim is to get news from every nook and corner of every city in India. The ultimate objective of going live will be our only criteria to grab eyeballs.

Q. Any new shows on Puthiya Thalaimurai?

Yes, we have planned a new show in the 10-11 pm time slot. I won’t be able to share much on the new show except that it will be a very different show and you would not have seen this concept anywhere else till now.

Q. How effective do you think is the digital medium in today’s techno world?

Digital is the way forward to success. But one disadvantage is that there are still lots of people who are not comfortable using the digital platform to get the news. So it depends on person to person. But if you look at the market, digital has created a new trend of getting everything with a click of a button.

Q. Do you think media will be a profitable business down the line, given that last year several people were laid off their jobs in media?

In my view, media will be a very profitable business. Media will be prosperous and it will be one of the major decision-makers through which people’s mandate can be taken into account.

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