In a bid to break out of the mould, news channels are experimenting with a variety of programming formats lately. Significantly, the results are beginning to show, especially in the case of Aaj Tak’s recently-launched programme ‘JBC’.
But, would the trend last the tide of time? Sandip Tarkas, President, South Asia, MPG, feels that “people come to a news channel primarily to get information. And it’s not about appointment viewing. These new programmes are in the experimental genre. For example, CNN has Larry King Live that's out of character with the channel but has a place of pride. BBC's Hard Talk is far more here and now. But Larry King Live is more entertainment-channelish. So, we got to wait and see if it becomes a pattern.”
JBC, a bi-weekly variety newsmagazine is the latest addition to Aaj Tak’s weekend programming schedule. It is a 30-minute spoof on the happenings that make the headlines and is aired on Saturdays and Sundays at 8:30 PM. Hosted, anchored and presented by the multi-faceted and versatile Jaaved Jaaferi, the programme showcases an array of innovative and funny segments that make up the 30 minutes programme, complete with JBC Channel ID, signature tune, promos, etc. JBC is a crack team of thorough professionals providing news from round the globe. It’s like any other news show, except that Jaaved and his team transform it into a one-of-its-kind entertainment show with inimitable talents drawn from theatre, television and films from different corners of the country.
“However, a programme like KBC had given us many flop shows, hence imitation is no guarantee of success,” Tarkas adds.
Atul Phadnis, Director, S Group, TAM India, observes that the emerging pattern would succeed in the long run. “If a mass entertainment channel can have a news element in it, then why can’t a news channel have an entertainment element,” he wondered.
Phadnis that such strategies would act as key differentiators and would “any day be better than creating news out of nothing”.
On the other hand, Nandini Dias, National Media Director, Lodestar, says, “Such programming initiatives are diluting the news genre in a way. Personally, I am not very excited that such things are happening ”
What are then the true chances of success? “At this stage all I can say is it can,” says Tarkas, as opposed to Dias’s views that “if I want to watch some entertainment programme I would switch on to an entertainment channel.”
Says G Krishnan, CEO, TV Today, “When we launched JBC, we were quite sure that its uniqueness would be a hit amongst the viewers. These innovations are in line with our efforts of providing freshness of programming.” Krishnan adds “We will continue to implement a slew of programming innovations based on in-house researches that would touch the lives of our viewers.”
As per the release issued by the channel, the programme topped the TRP charts for any programme on the news channel, with a TRP of 0.71 (TAM ratings for the week ending January 31, 2004). In fact, 9 out of the top 10 programmes on various news channels during the week belong to Aaj Tak.
It’s pertinent to note that NDTV India too has a puppet show called ‘Gustaki Maaf’ and NDTV 24x7 has “ Double Take”.
This is an interesting trend to watch and will probably create new fortunes. Whether more news channels will hitch on to this trend is yet to be seen and whether this trend sustains in terms of viewer ship will also be something to watch out in future.