News channels now are not only airing events as they happen, but also talking about entertainment. In a bid to differentiate programmes and break out of the clutter, these channels are experimenting with the entertainment genre.
Aaj Tak, for example, has launched a new show hosted by film star Jaaved Jaaferi called JBC (Javed Broadcasting Corporation). NDTV has a puppet show called Gustaki Maaf, which spoofs important events, while others such as Sahara and Star News have also introduced the entertainment element by taking viewers to birthday and wedding parties, discos and other social events. Besides, there are shows on health, cookery and home décor on various news channels.
According to Mr G. Krishnan, CEO, TV Today Network, "The idea of a show like JBC is to strengthen our weekend viewership. The audiences tend to move away from news channels to entertainment channels during the weekends. We want to add to our existing repertoire of Seedhi Baat and Cinema Aaj Tak which are featurish shows."
The show will have its own identity, signature tune, promos, advertising, and teleshopping breaks.
Zee News Editor, Ms Alka Saxena, said that while news is a serious business, shows such as a health show or an employment news show are informational by nature.
Mr Raj Nayak, Chief Executive, NDTV Media, said that the shows on cookery or health are termed as `News you can use', thereby offering our viewers variety on the channel and a break from hard news.
"This is not unique to India and international channels also do follow this format," he said. He also added that the line between news and entertainment would not blur "as long as the programming is not frivolous and does not compromise on the values and positioning of the channel."
The competition among news channels is forcing them to innovate. Mr Atul Phadnis, Director, S-Group, TAM India, said that viewership goes up during an event, which is of local, national or international importance. However, when there are no such events, the channels would either have to hype up small events or have regular entertainment type shows to keep the audiences coming in.
The Rs 350-crore news channels segment is set to expand with elections round the corner. Mr Atul Phadnis, Director, S-Group, TAM India, said that this year could witness the launch of regional language news channels and speciality news channels such as a Hindi business news channel.