The hyperactive Indian news domain is well divided between players that have and flaunt their affiliations with global brand names like CNBC TV-18, CNN-IBN and Times Now, and those who are home-grown like Aaj Tak and NDTV. There are of course other home-grown examples like STAR News and Zee News, but these brands by virtue of belonging to larger groups do bring some assets to the table.
Do international affiliations make a difference to the success of a news channel in India? TV-18 Media’s CEO, B Saikumar, is inclined to think so. He said, “International affiliations help build a two-way path between India and the Globe – they offer the viewers breaking news from around the globe, best practices to the Indian players and also allow news from India to be carried globally.”
Raj Nayak, CEO, NDTV Media, has a contradictory point of view. “We are a home-grown Indian channel and we are proud of it. We have proved to the world that we can compete with the best. Today, NDTV is setting up news channels for broadcasters in other countries. NDTV 24x7 has won the best channel award in Asia, competing with the best in the world. Just because you have an international affiliation, I don’t think it helps on any count.”
G Krishnan, CEO, TV Today, chose to give a more diplomatic reply. He said, “International affiliations have limited advantage in terms of technology, ideas, exposure and so on. But any news channel’s success will depend on localisation and, therefore, any affiliation has to have strategic localised fit.”
Uday Shankar, CEO, STAR News, agreed with Nayak on this. He was of the opinion that international affiliations really did not make a difference to the Indian audience. He said, “The relation a channel has to create with the audience is that of credibility and that will come over a period of time. I don’t think that you can just come with an international brand name and your problem is solved.”
Not surprisingly Times Now, CEO, Sunil Lulla, pointed out the advantages of an international affiliation. He said, “Times Group and Reuters have more than 3,000 journalists, and it’s a huge resource enabling us to provide news with great width as well as depth in our coverage. And it brings the best of both worlds to build Times Now as the leader in the market.”
He further said, “Times Group has the best of local perspective and resources and Reuters the best of global news coming together to give the Indian audience a far more engaging and relevant news programming. The partnership gives the viewers news from across the world with an Indian perspective and connects to the financial markets of the world seamlessly and, getting the best of financial gurus from across the world on one platform and various other such advantages.”
Media experts like Punitha Arumugam, CEO, Madison Media, believes that an international affiliation or brand name can bring to the table a known or an established brand, but is not sure whether that can also establish a channel. “Even with international brand names, a channel has to be as active and innovative as say any home grown channel. From that point of view, I don’t think it makes much difference,” she said.
Agreeing with her, The Media Edge’s Vice-president, Divya Radhakrishnan, said, “May be on the count of resources you get help, but it is not necessary that it helps in the performance of a channel too.”