STAR News is abuzz with activities. Alongside introducing changes in its primetime line-up, the group is experimenting with the nature of programming as well. The news channel is also contemplating on launching a number of new channels.
Latest media reports suggest that STAR News is planning to launch not just an English news channel and a business news channel but also regional channels. Throwing light on this, STAR News CEO, Uday Shankar says, “There are plans on the drawing board and we are still exploring ideas. But we are not launching a business news channel. I won’t also call the plans that we have as launching regional news channels. What we are looking at are niche channels within the news genre itself.”
Confirming that the new channels will not be area-centric, as is seen from the Sahara group, he expresses, “Coming from the STAR–ABP stable, you can be sure that the idea would be a novel one. That is why I call them niche, and not regional.”
In context to the new show, the attempt is to introduce differentiated programming in the present STAR News line-up. Coming in the afternoon slot, the show ‘Saas Bahu Aur Saazish- Kyunki Har Serial Kuch Kehta Hai’ revolves around the soaps seen on television. The show is planned as a half-hour Monday to Friday daily, aired at 2.30 pm.
Commenting on what inspired the channel to come up with such a show, Shankar says, “TV has grown immensely in the country in the last few years. People are heavily involved with the entertainment genre but what they see is just the 22 minutes of the show on-air. However, there is much more to these properties than can be explored and presented to the audience.” Given the nature and timing of the show, the skew is towards the female target.
STAR News has plans to bring out the business of serials, the sociology element of these shows and the creative people and stars involved in the making of these serials. “There is lot of information which people are interested in and that is where a need-gap comes in,” observes Shankar. “The idea is not to tap the same audience that is in any case watching news channels. We want to identify the gaps where audience for news channels can be created or can be tapped better.”
Giving an example in line with the discussion, he says, “Bringing in ‘Desh Videsh’ at 5 pm will allow us to lure in news viewer of the small towns who don’t wait for 8 pm to see the national and international round-up of news.” Shankar elucidates that the new programming is in line with the changes that are effecting in the channel’s content and in tandem with the recent change in the primetime. The promos of the show have already gone on-air. Channel officials explain that while the promotions currently are only on the STAR Network, it will soon spread to the outdoor medium as well.
The other changes in the primetime include the two-hour ‘Desh Videsh’ followed by ‘Aaj ki Baat’. The one-hour special bulletin ‘National Reporter’ comes at 8 pm and ‘National Reporter Special’ at 9.30 pm. Another one-hour special news bulletin providing the latest developments of national and international interests will be aired at 11 pm and midnight. “The idea is to make news an anytime viewing concept for the viewer,” states Shankar.
However, as ratings indicate that the news audience has not grown in proportion to the number of channels that have come on the scene, the segment’s need is not to attract the present viewer but to create new viewers. Initiatives like these and more are required for the news genre to achieve that.