It is time for the Union Budget again. While on one hand, every Indian is waiting to see what the Finance Minister has in store for them and the economy this year, on the other hand, news channels are all geared up to capture every nuance of the Budget in order to grab maximum eyeballs.
The budget related properties are priced at a premium and all media houses, from existing channels to the new ones, have planned exhaustive coverage. Expectations, from most circles, are reasonably high around the event.
Channels' aim and expectations:
The leader's programming focuses more on the Budget days. "We have our prime properties placed on February 28 and it is the Budget days where we see increase in eyeballs,” said Q W Naqwi, News Director, Aaj Tak. "The common man today is interested in matters of the economy, business and finance and we aim to present content that is easy and comprehensible for him. We will decode the budget in a manner that he can utilise it to his advantage."
STAR News too is taking a similar approach. "We have done extensive on-ground work, where people have presented opinions on what they expect from the Budget, and we presented it to the Finance Minister," informed Uday Shankar, CEO, STAR News. "One thing that is evident is the people's interest in the event and we have designed our content bearing that in mind."
STAR News is banking on the high audience interest in the property. Said Shankar, "While we are expecting a high throughout the programming, experience shows that on the Budget days and during the analyses, there is an increase in viewership. The properties should do well but, more importantly, in the long run it helps in building bondage between the people and the channel."
NDTV too is bullish about its programming. Said Raj Nayak, CEO, NDTV Media, "NDTV is synonymous with Budget programming. This is a huge event for us, both from a programming and a revenue angle. Across our three channels, we will probably give viewers the most in-depth and unparalleled Budget coverage."
Viewership increase is expected here as well. "Budget affects everyone's life - corporates, housewives, every citizen of this country, directly or indirectly. There is huge viewer interest on this day," Nayak remarked.
CNBC TV-18's B Saikumar, agreeing that there is a huge viewer interest in the Budget, said, "The theme of the Budget programming is 'Will the dream team deliver?' This initiative feels the pulse of millions of Indians who are looking forward for a more consumer friendly Budget. There is no mistaking the great expectations for the future brought on by a mood that has never been this buoyant in recent years."
BBC World, on its part, is geared up to present the global perspective on the Indian Budget. Narendhra Morar, Commissioning Editor, BBC World, said, "BBC World will provide its viewers in India with a comprehensive analysis of the Budget from a variety of perspectives, assessing the impact of the measures for India, Asia and on a global level. No other channel is able to offer an international take on the Budget in the way that BBC World can, reflecting the global interest in India's economy and the implications of the Budget for the rest of Asia and, indeed, the world."
In terms of coverage, channels are divided between pre-Budget programming, live Budget coverage and post-Budget analyses, with studio experts on different aspects of the Budget stationed at most channels.
For Aaj Tak, pre-Budget coverage began on February 14 with 'Suniye Vitt Mantriji', a 12-day programme on what the people are expecting from the FM on different topics. However, prime programming for the channel comes on Budget day - February 28, when the channel will have two programmes -- a sectoral analysis by Pricewaterhouse Coopers called 'Nafa Nuksan', and a two-hour special at 10.00 PM, 'Chidambaram Ki Pariksha', where people from different walks of life grade the FM on various aspects of the Budget.
STAR News' programming is being done under the brand name 'Kyunki Ye Meri Jeb Hai', with the channel taking a three-pronged approach with its three properties, 'Tere Mere Sapne', 'Saudagar Saudagar' and 'Dil Chahta Hai'. Special programming for Budget days, followed by analyses, is in place. Economist Ila Patnaik is the studio resident expert for the analyses.
CNBC TV-18 has chosen the theme 'Will the dream team deliver?' for its budget related programming. As part of its Budget 2005 series, CNBC-TV18 has organised a set of pre-budget roundtables in the major metros of India. Budget Caravan, a special for this year's budget, will be telecast live. Awaaz will not only cover Budget 2005 but also translate the consumers’ voice, their dreams and their opinions in simple, jargon-free Hindi.
Apart from live coverage, NDTV Profit has lined initiatives like 'Budget Battleground', 'Investment Special', and 'Tax Special'. NDTV 24x7 will telecast properties like 'Taxes Made Easy' and 'Budget and Politics', while NDTV India has lined up initiatives like 'Budget ki Khabar' and 'Mano Ya Na Mano' amongst others.
For BBC World, while 'Question Time India' and 'Business Bites' will stage debates and discussions with industry experts from within India, programmes such as 'Asia Today', 'Asia Business Report' and 'World Business Report' will bring regional and international reactions to the Budget. For a week starting February 21, 'Asia Business Report' and 'World Business Report' will feature interviews with prominent figures such as India's Tourism Minster Renuka Chaudhry, and the CEOs of some of the country's leading companies.