NewsNext 2008: ‘Broadcasters must understand TV news is just not a TRP game’

NewsNext 2008: ‘Broadcasters must understand TV news is just not a TRP game’

Author | Pallavi Goorha and Puneet Bedi Bahri | Thursday, Aug 21,2008 8:52 AM

NewsNext 2008: ‘Broadcasters must understand TV news is just not a TRP game’

exchange4media Group is all set to hold the NewsNext 2008 conference in the Capital on August 22. Times Now is the main sponsor of NewsNext 2008. The day-long conference, which will be held at the Taj Palace, will focus on various issues such as the future of Indian news broadcasting, self-regulation, and language news TV, among others.

exchange4media Group will also hold its first ever awards for the broadcast industry. Christened Airtel Indian News Broadcasting Awards, the event will be the culmination of the NewsNext 2008 conference. The Airtel Indian News Broadcasting Awards ceremony will he held at the Taj Palace on August 22 and commence from 8 pm onwards.

In the run-up to the NewsNext 2008 conference, the exchange4media team spoke to senior industry leaders to know their views on some relevant topics and came up with some candid answers. Two questions were asked to the industry leaders:

1) What, according to them, are the significance and implications of such conferences and awards?

2) Where do they think the news TV genre is headed?

Anurradha Prasad, MD, BAG Films and Media:

(On significance and implications): The Airtel Indian News Broadcasting Awards are very prestigious and are bound to bring honour and recognition to its recipients. Awards are a moral booster and motivator to professionals in the broadcast industry. In our field of TV news broadcasting, there are rare moments of relaxation and few chances to celebrate our achievements. These awards also award us with such moments of relaxation and celebration that are so rare and far between for us in the media industry.

Broadcasting in India has flourished in the past 15-odd years and n-number of news channels peek out of our TV screens 24x7. There is cutthroat competition and a big race to outdo one another. In the race to gain high TRPs, the content broadcast on news channels has come into question. The conference brings together experienced and seasoned professionals from the TV industry. It is a great platform to share and discuss experiences and ideas about the news television industry, discuss issues that plague our industry and seek answers to some questions that crop up in the minds of media professionals regularly in the course of their work.

(On news TV genre): I feel the news TV genre is going to now see a whole lot of innovation and experimentation. I am proud to say that B.A.G Films & Media Ltd has recently carved a brand new genre in TV news with its channel E 24, pitched as Bollywood’s first dedicated news channel. I feel, like this new genres in TV news will be created through innovative ideation and content creation by media professionals of today.

Rajat Sharma, Chairman and CEO, India TV:

(On significance and implications): For any award, it is the process of selection that holds the key as to whether the award will hold any ‘significance’, particularly in the sensitive arena of news journalism. At India TV, we don’t enter these awards as we don’t want to reduce the hard work of our journalists by sending entries to be judged by juries. We feel that our work should speak for itself. That’s why we do feel delighted and honoured when we are felicitated by juries as Team India TV.

Diligent follow-up on the deliberations can help all stakeholders, including the industry. Very crucial policy paradigms like TRAI’s new TRP proposal, the consultation on the crucial issue of entry criteria in the news business, the challenge of rational carriage fee, and the need to self-regulation without Government interference will no doubt be brought up by panelists. The challenge will be to go beyond the conference and to use the year until the next one for concrete action.

Sudhir Chaudhary, Editor & CEO, Live India:

(On significance and implications): I feel we are in a public service and our viewers keep watching and appreciating out content which is shown in TRPs. But it is always good to get recognition from the broadcast industry by such eminent and recognised Jury, provided the awards are fair and equal footing is given to all players small or big, new or old. It’s a great opportunity for brain storming to share new ideas and policy matters at a common platform. As it gives chance to all the big names in the industry to meet and discuss some serious issues and helps us take a call appropriately. There has been a lot of criticism of the content being provided on the news channels but I believe this phase of content criticism will go away.

Rabindra Narayan, President PTC Network:

(On significance and implications): They are a much needed recognition for the thankless round the clock service being rendered by the news channels. Except these awards, it is rare to see news channels getting any appreciation from anywhere. Normally, it is only the criticism and brickbats being thrown at news channels, which are noticed by everyone whereas good work done by them largely goes unappreciated. It definitely helps the industry as it involves sharing of thoughts and setting examples in excellence in news broadcasting.

(On news TV genre): TV news genre is going to get increasingly localised. The next big thing is the regional news channels. Like the local supplements, the regional news channels reflect the immediate neighborhood issues and news, which affects the daily life of an individual in his immediate surroundings. There is bigger viewers connect as compared with the Hindi news channels since these channels reflect immediate surroundings, happenings and people.

Ashutosh Managing Editor, IBN7:

(On significance and implications): These awards are recognition to good work good professionals and helps in brand building and such conferences are a great help in cross-fertilisation of ideas and also an opportunity for the industry for introspection and stock taking.

(On news TV genre): TV news is in an evolutionary mode, a transition phase. Nature of news and very definition of news is changing fundamentally. From serious news to dumbing down of the content, news as per say is in a mutant stage and news genre is expanding.

Barun Das CEO, Zee News:

(On significance and implications): These awards are a marketing tool for the channels and help in creating some kind of imagery among the advertising fraternity. I don’t think that viewers tune in to a channel because it has been awarded by an industry website or magazine.

These forums are a wonderful idea and they are obviously welcome. Quite often I have seen that a lot of relevant issues are discussed. But my only concern is up to what extent these issues are pursued. If they just fade away once the conference is over, due to lack of ownership to take these issues forward, then I am not sure about the efficacy of these forums. These conferences will serve better meaning if some one takes on a responsibility of addressing the issues discussed. This will help the industry address the concerns/ challenges effectively.

(On news TV genre): With the tremendous growth in the market size and the introduction of a news channel every two and a half months, the news industry is increasingly getting competitive. This has further resulted in an increase in viewer ship as well as the advertising volume. To me it looks that every new entrant may not have pure business imperative. And for the existing channels, quest for TRP has compelled most of the Hindi news channels shift away from the traditional definition of news and God-men or stand-up comedy shows cut from entertainment channels, etc. now find their way to news channels prime-time. We believe that sensible news need not necessarily be un-interesting and dull. Hence we decided to go against the tide and are focusing on relevant and sensible news which have so far paid rich dividends.

Looks like, soon the category of Hindi news channels will be segmented into two groups. One will comprise serious players like Zee News, who will focus at the quality and authentic news, and the other group, which may be known as ‘live GECs!

Shashi Shekhar, Group Editor, Amar Ujala:

(On significance and implications): These awards encourage but still there is a long way to go as more and more credible people and organisations should come forward for such events. I believe this new effort will give industry a new boost. TV news in India is in bad shape. Only few channels are serious for the sanctity of news I hope this conference will help news broadcasters to find out right ways. Broadcasters must understand TV news is just not TRP game.

Also read:

NewsNext 2008 to turn the spotlight on the business of news television

exchange4media to present first ever Airtel News Broadcasting Awards on August 22

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