The Union Budget sure is one topic that is hot in the news circles and the expectations from the media industry are high. While some in the industry believe that the coverage of the budget will give more eyeballs, others feel that it is the kind of viewers that the channels attract would benefit advertisers. However, all the channels have ensured that they have enough and more to lure the Indian viewers - from Yashwant Sinha on Zee Business to Kumar Mangalam Birla on STAR News. Industry experts share why this is one of the most hectic times for news channels.
Most of the channels have priced the property at a premium. "Union Budget is one of the prime events for news channels, specifically for business news channels and it is always sold at a premium for this reason," said Manish Porwal, General Manager, New Business Initiatives, Starcom.
Porwal said that though there would be an increase in numbers, yet it would not match the kind of premium that the channel is charging. "In case of the budget, it is more about the presence on the property, particularly for the financial clients or clients that would want to be seen by the financial community," he added. A point that Pradeep Iyengar, Vice President and National Media Buyer, Carat Media agreed with. "Union Budget is definitely one property that news channels look forward to. It has often shown an increase in numbers. One reason is that the Indian consumer is increasingly getting interested in the economy and financial sectors and this gets reflected in the viewing behaviour," he said.
"Also for the budget, there is a substantial amount of out of home viewing that doesn't get reflected. Which is why, even when the property doesn't show numbers, it is reaching to a whole section of relevant audience," said Porwal.
Channel's aims and expectations:
Zee Business has high expectations from the event and initiatives like roping in editors of the leading pink papers emphasise this. "The focus is on the ordinary man. We have looked at the budget with focus in two areas, the changes in tax proposals and change in prices of various commodities." said the channel's head Sameer Ahluwalia,
According to him the effort from the channel is to make the programming more interactive and as simple as possible. An objective all channels are trying to reach.
Sahara Samay, which too is focussing on the common man has the catch line 'Aapka Budget' for its programming. According to the channel's Executive Editor, Anil Pandey, Aapka Budget' will speak to the viewers on the subjects that impact them in their daily life. "We have already begun our sector wise coverage on factors like FDI and Tax," he said.
Commenting on what he expects from the budget numbers, he said, "We are definitely looking at an increase in numbers. Budget is an urban middleclass and the upper-class phenomenon and so are ratings. Keeping the practical point of view, we have even consciously designed our programming with a slight skew towards TRP towns and its audience. We are definitely expecting an increase in the numbers and better quality of eyeballs coming in."
With similar expectations, Aluwalia added, "More than the numbers it is the connect with the viewers and we are sure that on both these counts, the budget will deliver for us."
Expectations sure are high but India TV pointed out a noteworthy factor. "The budget coverage, like most other events, has two problems. One is clutter and the second is me-too attitude, which is only accentuated further by the entry of the business channels. Also, ever since the budget timing has changed, TV has become more dominating and every channel is doing a lot of the same thing," said Rajat Sharma, Chairman and Managing Director, India TV.
"Our prime aim is to avoid me-tooism and hence break clutter. While it is easy to say that the budget will focus on the common man, it is difficult to implement it when you have experts talking to each other rather than identifying pointers that would affect the working man," added Sharma.
He said that one area where the channel will differentiate itself would be by brining a mix of experts who aren't traditionally called in studios and the known names as well. "This will help us bring in fresher perspective to the viewer. Also, what it will help us to not only retain our audience but also bring in newer eyeballs," said Sharma.
Zee Business' programming revolves around two areas - taxes and prices. The two prime budget programmes hence from the channel are 'Tax Doctor', which would be shown twice on the budget day with N Nakothia and the second one is 'Sasta Mehenga'. The channel has also partnered with KPMG for, where analysts will be present with the channel at the time of the FM speech and will immediately evaluate the budget.
Another programme from the channel is 'Aapka Bazaar', where the channel will help the viewer with specific stocks and their position and advise emerging thereof. In terms of experts, the channel has brought together the likes of Swaminathan Iyer, T C A Srinivas Raghavan, Vivek Bharati and Ila Patnayak.
The channel has also roped in former finance minister Yashwant Sinha for its show 'Captains of India'. The programme showcases a five-part series from February 21 to February 25. The show stresses on the financial implication of the Union Budget on various classes of the society and is also aired on Zee News.
Among the programmes lined-up on Sahara Samay Rashtriya, the channel has Budget Bole, which is more on the corporate sector, where CEOs discuss about the budget. The other programmes are Budget Funda, which simplifies the budget for the viewers and 'Budget Vyangya', where the channel attempts to bring in humour to speak to its viewers. The channel will have experts throughout as well.
The budget programming on Headlines Today began on February 20 under the branding 'Great Expectations Budget 2005'. The principal aim of the entire programming on Headlines Today was to deconstruct the Budget and highlight its impact on our lives. Headlines Today will air budget specials at 8:00 PM daily till March 1, 2005. Post-Budget analysis would be the highlight of the programming on this date.
Omkar Goswami, the eminent economist and the channel's in-house expert, will take the viewers through the relevant portions of the budget, assisted by Bibek Debroy and Surjit Bhalla. Valuable inputs will also be provided by Indira Rajaraman and Subir Gokaran.