‘The War for TV News: Defining No 1 in the dizzying newscape’ was the only news related session at FICCI Frames 2010. Moderated by Mini Menon, Senior Editor & Head of News Features, Bloomberg UTV, the panelists included G Krishnan, Executive Director & CEO, TV Today Network; LV Krishnan, CEO, TAM Media Research; Ellana Lee, Managing Editor, CNN International Asia Pacific; Barun Das, CEO, Zee News; and Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief, Times Now.
Mini Menon kicked off the session by asking the panelists what would determine the number one player in the space in the future.
G Krishnan stressed that brand and credibility built a news institute. He said, “The number of people watching the news is increasing and hence, news channels are looking for more eyeballs and share of the advertising pie. We also expect subscription revenues to increase.” One thing that he does have a problem with is with the weekly ratings. “No other medium is scrutinised week on week,” he pointed out.
According to Barun Das, “One major problem is that news channels generally tend to ignore the middle line and focus on the top line growth.”
Arnab Goswami, on the other hand, felt differently. He said, “Every media has a benchmark, and ratings are the benchmark for the TV industry.” He further noted that any news channel that got 10-25 per cent revenue of the entire category would be the number one channel in the future.
LV Krishnan was of the opinion that broadcasting was like running a long marathon and one could not just stop mid way. He also pointed out that today’s audience wanted to watch a news channel that had a strong point of view.
Ellana Lee added here, “Our currency is the credibility that we bring and not the ratings. CNN does not follow any ratings, but has regional media surveys that show how viewers perceive the brand. We don’t follow ratings as we don’t have a short term outlook, but a long term one.”
G Krishnan was of the firm belief that Hindi news channel had a very positive future in India and added that even the biggest cartoon channel and even radio stations had to change their English content to Hindi. Agreeing with him Barun Das said, “The regional market in India is very vibrant and will grow in the coming years. Both Hindi and English languages have their own market.”
Arnab Goswami observed, “The younger audience prefers the English channels. As far as the sensibilities of the Indian audience are concerned, we have our editorial handbook and we don’t need to borrow any rules from the West.”
The final consensus that emerged was that while the ratings systems helped evaluate the performance, advertisers had to stop pitching one rating format against the other. The panel also felt that television needed one single rating system to streamline the process.