Launched in May 2008, Noida-based news and entertainment channel CNEB is set to complete a year of operations. In an exclusive conversation with exchange4media, Rahul Dev, Editor-in-Chief and CEO, CNEB, speaks about how the channel has been facing the economic slowdown and the recent EC diktat on opinion and exit polls.
On the effects of the slowdown, Dev said, “We have just started; of course everyone is affected to some extent or the other. We are relatively new and our revenue has just started to come in, so there has been no direct impact on us as of now. Marketers, brands, and advertisers are cutting down on cost, which is bound to affect everyone – current players as well as prospective players. This, in turn, is indirectly affecting everyone in the media domain. There have been no layoffs or pay cuts, but we are being extra careful about our expenses and don’t want to spend a penny more than what is necessary to put our plans in action. Also, we are tightening all financial processes, but at the same time we are recruiting people.”
Commenting on the decision of the Election Commission (EC) on distribution of results of opinion polls and exit polls by the media, Dev said, “We are completely against it and have discussed in my live programme as well. We have gone against it on two basic grounds – one being the freedom of expression and the media and the Constitution; secondly, it has been proven over several decades that this kind of coverage does not affect the outcome or people’s minds.”
He further said, “I am surprised that the EC has gone ahead without any legal or Constitutional right. There is no Supreme Court mandate or instruction behind it, the Supreme Court merely just mentioned that EC is free to do it if it wants to. This was also a technical Constitutional question asked by the Supreme Court. EC in its own wisdom has done it and every time there are elections, this issue comes up, especially from the ones who are in fear of losing some seats. It is really questioning and disbelieving the ability of the voters, which has been proven time and again. The diversity and the size of the country shows that these things don’t affect them, this, in fact, increases their political knowledge and only gives the pulse of the polls. This is an amazingly backward step that EC has taken and we are really against.”
“I think the entire media should get together, and more importantly, the NBA and INS should get together and take up this issue jointly,” Dev added.