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People need to be at the centre stage & not marginalised: Vinay Tewari

24-February-2014
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People need to be at the centre stage & not marginalised: Vinay Tewari

CNN-IBN & IBN7 is all set to launch a new initiative called ‘Open Mike’, which aims to take the channel’s legacy of inclusive journalism forward. This initiative will enable the people of this country to actively participate in the discourse on elections.

In conversation with exchange4media, Vinay Tewari, Managing Editor, CNN-IBN, Network18, speaks about ‘Open Mike; and the group’s Lok Sabha elections coverage plans.

What is the objective behind ‘Open Mike’?
We are in a season of debates, and plenty of them happen across channels. But no one provides a dedicated platform to people and gets viewers involved as equal participants in a consistent model. People need to participate in the discourse on elections. Democracy is about people. They need to be at the centre stage and not marginalised. The show will capture views and questions from people across the country. It aims to capture the pulse of what we, as a country are thinking, in relation to possibly the most crucial national elections ever.

There are other channels covering elections. How different is ‘Open Mike’ from their programming?
We have a very extensive line-up of programming on elections, including poll studies aimed at understanding the shifting nature of how people are deciding who to vote for. We will also showcase campaign trails and produce documentaries; however, ‘Open Mike’ is a unique and novel concept. The idea of actually reaching out to people at large through a highly interactive platform is what gives the show a unique personality and flavour. We aim to reach out to people from across the country and enable them to share their thoughts. The show will also fully leverage our online presence through IBNLive and IBNKhabar and our Facebook and Twitter pages (reaching out to an estimated 2 million individuals) – enabling viewers to engage with the show online as well.

What is the promotion strategy for this show?
Given that the show will be highly interactive, a lot of the focus of our promotions will be in the digital space. We have almost 2 million people connected to us through our Facebook and Twitter pages. Our websites (IBNLive and IBNKhabar) attract almost 6-7 million unique visitors every month. We will heavily leverage this base to promote ‘Open Mike’. Needless to say, we will also promote the show aggressively across our network channels and support it with strategic communication through print, outdoors in key metros, and HSMs.

What will be the key focus areas for CNN-IBN and IBN7 in 2014 as far as content is concerned?
The current focus of programming for our channels will clearly be on the elections – we have finalised the most extensive and diverse programming line up in the industry on elections.These shows will air on the channels over the next several months. We have a variety of shows lined up, from the most scientific poll surveys to the most detailed profiling of key leaders, special documentaries, extensive polling, counting day coverage, to interesting trivia.

Who are the advertisers on board for this show and what leverage will CNN-IBN and IBN7 get out of it?
Frankly, this is a very premium show for us. We have only opened this up for very limited sponsors. We already have one brand on board for the show. We see a very strong upside both in terms of viewer and advertiser interest, as also in creating a uniquely differentiated show that will bring to the fore the voice of the common men and women of India. 

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