With four weeks of test feed and a week into the official launch, India TV is concretising its programming, putting its distribution in place, introducing solus ads in news bulletins and aiming at quality production by operating from an internationally modelled studio. The latest entrant in the news genre is readying itself to give the present players some more competition.
India TV is the latest offering from Independent News Service. The editorial reins of the channel lie with the channel’s Chairman Rajat Sharma. The on-air look of the channel and the production responsibilities are managed by INS co-promoter Ritu Dhawan. At the helm of advertising is Sanjay Reddy as Vice-president, Sales.
Being the distribution head of the channel, Arun Poddar ensures that the channel is easily accessible. Add to these names like Tarun Tejpal, Maneka Gandhi and Nafisa Ali and we know the people behind and in front of the camera for the channel.
Reflecting on the feedback in the first week, Sharma says, “Terrific. I never expected it be so positive and so fast. We had carried a few numbers in our advertisements and our phones haven’t stopped ringing.”
“There are three kinds of callers we get. One, people congratulating us saying they want to be a part of the India TV movement. Second, people responding to our programmes and giving us more information and story ideas. And the third, people asking how they would get to see the channel. But the best compliment came from the Foreign Minister who praised us in his column in Frontline,” Sharma adds.
Plans on Programming
Looking at India TV more closely, let’s begin with the channel’s programming. INS has to its credit programmes like ‘Aap Ki Adaalat’, ‘Aaj Ki Baat’, ‘Awaaz’, ‘Aaj Subah’ and several bulletins and special interviews.
In continuing to maintain a similar style in reporting and presentation, the current line-up constitutes ‘Aaj ki Baat Rajat Sharma ke Saath’, a one-hour daily programme blending news reporting and analysis slotted at 9 pm, Sohaib Ilyasi hosted ‘Faraar kaun’, Bhupendra Narayan Singh in a consumer care programme ‘Sab Gol Maal Hai’, which looks into problems like food adulteration and ‘Bach Ke Rehna’, which is on a candid camera format, along with ‘Choti si Aasha’.
Three other programmes that the channel is banking on for creating differentiation are Maneka Gandhi–anchored ‘Jeene ki Raah’, a daily bulletin on environment and animal welfare, and Tarun Tejpal’s ‘Aaj ka Tehelka’, exposing corruption at all levels. Sharma’s signature show ‘Aap ki Adaalat’ will be on air in a couple of weeks and so will be Nafisa Ali’s show, which takes the hostess to various cities, delving into local problems and taking them to the authorities.
Speaking more about the style, Sharma points, “We will not exploit people’s sentiments in case of sensitive reports. According to the IMRB research we conducted, people want a news channel they can trust and which fights for their rights. That is the guideline we are working on.”
Explaining more about the reasons to involve names like Gandhi and Tejpal, he explains, “Maneka stood for the cause of environment and animal welfare that we had to take up, so she was the best name. And what better name than Tarun to expose corruption.”
Deals on Distribution
India TV has in-house arrangements to take care of its distribution. Poddar throws more light on how the channel put its distribution in place. Says he, “Our team began with the cow belt and has been successful in sealing it.” The areas that fall in this belt that India TV claims to be already present in are markets like UP, MP, Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Punjab amongst other areas.
As for the metros, the channel will be in Mumbai and Delhi in this week. “We are in talks with Hinduja and Win for Mumbai, though we are already substantially present there. In Delhi too we are present largely but a central decision has to be taken on associating with Hathway.”
Speaking more on why was the cow belt handled first, he explains, “These are the more important pockets for a Hindi channel. From the point of view of an advertiser, his consumers are already watching the channel.”
Art of Advertising
“With this channel, we presented the idea of solus to advertisers,” informs Reddy. Explaining this further, he says, “In a news channel, the primary driver is new bulletin. All programmes on current affairs, analysis and other such shows are secondary. Keeping that in mind, we have introduced the concept of solus ads.”
Reddy explains that in a 20- minute news bulletin, the channel will have five solus breaks. This would necessarily mean that only one spot, which could vary from 20 to 40 secs, will appear between the news. According to him, the channel plans to follow the international pattern of a six-minute break in every thirty minutes. “The left over minutes will get adjusted within the time leading in and out of the news bulletin,” he adds.
Speaking more on the benefit of the move, he elucidates, “The transition between news to breaks and back to news is so smooth that the viewer hardly gets the time to surf. The result is that it arrests the problem of the fall in break TVRs, vis-à-vis programme TVRs, which according to TAM vary from 27 to 42 per cent. From the viewer point of view, it saves him from ad overload and the advertiser doesn’t have to worry of where his spot appeared and who saw it.”
Definitely there is a lot happening for India TV. In an atmosphere, where the current players have more or less settled in their respective positions, India TV will definitely make a place. However, where on the ratings card is something we will know in just a week’s time.