How difficult is it for a news channel to survive? People are interested in business models and profit is the keyword. Is India ready for ‘not for profit media’ – this is a question that is often raised by industry experts.
Uday Varma, Former Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, noted, “It is argued that news channels tend to sensationalise news for Television Rating Points (TRPs), since high TRPs ensure survival and generates profit. It is becoming increasingly difficult to find an agenda which is in sync with objectivity because media has to be run like any other business.”
While firmly believing that not for profiit media is not an oxymoron, Varma maintained, “For a good, successful channel, we need to have more objectivity and lack of bias. I believe India deserves a news channel which is not run for profit. Maybe the rich people can get together and sponsor a channel with objectivity.”
Corroborating Varma’s concern, Alok Aggarwal, CEO, Zee Media Corporation said, “While there is opportunity to have a not for profit media in India, it is also important to understand the background. Cost building of news has to come from somewhere.”
He further said, “Media industry is highly capital intensive. Not for profit should also ensure that we are not for loss.”
Talking about the existence of not for profit media in other countries, Simon Spanswick, Founder Director, Association of International Broadcasting (AIB) said, “In Europe, PSB is not for profit. Besides, there are many organisations in the US such as Montana Centre for Investigative Learning that are not for profit and take donations from viewers to support very high quality journalism. It’s all about supporting civil societies and democratic ideas.”
Industry experts are in agreement that to ensure democracy and high standards of journalism, not for profit media is required. However, ground realities prove to be a damper and it will take some more years for a not for profit media organisation to come up in India.
Uday Varma, Alok Aggarwal, and Simon Spanswick shared their views at News Next 2014, organised by exchange4media in New Delhi on January 18. NewsX was the presenting sponsor of the event.