The exodus from Aaj Tak that started with the departure of senior editorial staffers Ashutosh, Mrityunjay Jha and Prabal Pratap Singh continues with some more middle level staffers including Kumar Rajesh, Neeraj Gupta, Ipsita Singh and Brij Duggal quitting to join greener pastures.
Except for Special Correspondent Kumar Rajesh who was asked to leave, others have left on their own to join rival IBN 7 channel to be in the company of their former senior colleagues Ashutosh, Mrityunjay and Prabal.
Neeraj Gupta, anchor of the crime show ‘Vardaat’, who was promoted to Principal Correspondent last year, did not figure in the list of staffers who have been given promotions this time. Brij Duggal who had been handling the crime show ‘Hatyara Kaun’, was also not given promotion. Ipsita Singh who was doing entertainment reporting, quit even after her elevation as Principal Correspondent and is headed for IBN as Special Correspondent.
While confirming the departure of these staffers, Aaj Tak News Director Q W Naqvi refused to comment on why Kumar Rajesh was made to leave.
Meanwhile, as a part of staff appraisal and a restructuring exercise, a large number of editorial hands in Aaj Tak have been given promotion and salary hikes. Associate Executive Producer Amitabh who was earlier shifted from head of Tez Channel to take charge of the upcoming Delhi & NCR channel, Delhi Aaj Tak, has been elevated to the post of Executive Producer.
Political Editor Deepak Chaurasia has been upgraded to the post of Senior Editor (which is equivalent to Executive Producer) alongwith a salary hike. Shishir Joshi who was heading Mumbai operations in the capacity of Editor, has also been promoted to Senior Editor. Deputy Editor and presenter of prime time news show ‘Dus Tak’, Punya Prasoon Vajpayee, has been made Editor. Deepak Sharma who was earlier given the charge of Special Investigating Team, has been elevated from Senior Special Correspondent to Associate Editor.
At the Senior Producer level, a number of staffers have been elevated to the rank of Associate Executive Producer. They include Viniti Jha, Rana Yashwant Singh, Akhil Bhalla, Sumit Mishra, JP Dewan and Rahul Chaudhry.
Meanwhile, despite experienced editorial hands leaving Aaj Tak, the channel has reported higher ratings and higher channel share compared to its rivals. Said Naqvi, "As per the latest TAM ratings in the 15+ segment, Aaj Tak has a rating of 28 with Star News, NDTV and Zee News lagging way behind at 18, 14 and 14 respectively. Our channel share of 27.4 is also way ahead of our rivals. On the programming front too, Aaj Tak is on top with 17 of the top 20 programmes."
Naqvi attributes this to the recent restructuring and a programming revamp undertaken by Aaj Tak. "The content and format of crime shows ‘Vardaat’, ‘Hatyara Kuan’, ‘Khauf’ and ‘Jurm’ have been beefed up to make them more topical. This follows our earlier initiative of setting up an independent Crime Bureau headed by Shams Tahir Khan and integrating day-to-day crime reporting with crime shows. We have also revamped our Business Show by shifting focus from stock markets and making it more consumer-oriented."
In another major programme revamping initiative, popular news show ‘Vishesh’ has been made daily and another primetime weekday (Monday - Friday) news show ‘Special Report’ has been introduced.
Meanwhile, according to Naqvi, Aaj Tak is currently engaged in refurbishing Tez channel. "We have come up with a new travel show, ‘Chalo Chutti Manayen’. Earlier, we had introduced ‘Tez Tamasha’ and ‘Tez Khel’ segments. Already, we have been able to consolidate our channel share to 3 per cent. Our reach has also gone up to 6.4 million. With more initiatives in the pipeline, we hope to further consolidate our position."
Buoyed by viewers' response and higher TRPs, Aaj Tak honchos are now looking forward to the month-end launch of their Delhi & NCR news channel with lot of enthusiasm and optimism.