Business news and regional news channels came under the scanner in two interesting sessions at the NewsNext 2008 conference that was held in Delhi on August 22. Times Now had presented NewsNext 2008.
The session on the future of business news TV in India was chaired by Jehangir Pocha, Editor, Businessworld. The other panellists included Senthil Chengalvarayan, Managing Editor, CNBC TV18; Sanjay Pugalia, Editor, CNBC Awaaz; Paolomi Dhawan VP-Corporate Communications, Raymond; Sanjay Jha, South Asia Bureau Chief, Now Public; and Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, independent educator and journalist.
Pocha began the discussions with a provocative statement when he said, “I don’t think there is a future of business news TV. Going forward, the time is going to be about you. Television determines what to see and when to see, it doesn’t respond to individuals, but addresses the masses.”
Commenting that we are living in the era of News 2.0, Sanjay Jha spoke about how bloggers was instrumental in spreading news about the devastating typhoon in Myanmar, which was picked up by people all over the world.
Sanjay Pugalia noted, “I don’t think traditional media will face the challenge of individual growth. Going forward, media will get democratised. Despite the Internet era, television and print will continue to grow.”
Paranjoy Guha Thakurta pointed out, “India has a population of 6 billion, of which 4 billion hasn’t yet accessed the Internet ever. When I look at business news, 2-3 per cent is about investing in stocks. While newspaper readership has declined in the West, it is not the case yet in India, where all media will co-exist. The future of business news is there, but it may not become big.”
Paolomi Dhawan noted, “In the last few years, media has changed and grown. The medium itself is changing. There is more proliferation of brands. It is about events, connectivity and buzzing.”
Pocha then posed the question, “Where are the new ideas? Why is there lack of creativity among the channels, in the shows that they do?”
To this, Chengalvarayan responded by giving an example of CNBC. He said, “Our biggest property is ‘Money Control’. The choice of news is decided by our viewers. The future lies in business news network across platforms.”
Pugalia said, “You have to be very direct in telling the consumer what you want and what you will show. Hindi news has been able to carve new media formats, while English news is still looking at more formats.”
Guha Thakurta pointed out here, “Indians have never been good at innovation. We have always been good at adapting. Who knows what the consumer really wants? Somewhere there is lack of credibility vis-à-vis print.”
Dhawan said, “Business news is much more than stocks or merger and acquisitions. For credibility, the brand fit has to be there.”
The second session of the afternoon dealt with Indian language news TV and the importance of regional channels. Chair person for the session was Alok Mehta, Editor Nai Duniya, and President, Editors Guild of India. The panellists included Nikhil Wagle, Editor, IBN Lokmat; Sanjay Salil, MD, Media Guru; Rabindra Narayan, President, PTC News; and Nalin Mehta, author and academician, UNAIDS.
Throwing the discussion open, Alok Mehta said, “The world has become small because of TV channels. Regional channels are very important and command a larger viewership, with Doordarshan having a huge reach in among regional channels.”
Nikhil Wagle noted, “I am happy that we have arrived at a point where regional media is today addressed as Indian TV. Regional languages unite to make the whole of India and the future lies in regional languages.”
Sanjay Salil said, “Media Guru has the first channel in India which has a MPEG format. We are launching another news channel in Hyderabad, which will be a completely high definition channel. Return on investment is much better in regional languages.”
Rabindra Narayan pointed out, “As far as the viewer is concerned, quality of news matters more than the language. A regional channel cannot survive if the quality is not good.”
Wagle added here, “People like to watch progammes in their mother tongue. You can reach the interior parts of India through regional language TV. Regional channels have contributed a lot and we are much more superior to Hindi or other channels.”