The only way we can take on our competition is to out-think them: Jehangir Pocha
NewsX has been seeing quite some action in the last 2-3 months with some key appointments as well as plans to revamp and strengthen the channel. NewsX is also going free to air from October 2009. Jehangir Pocha, in an exclusive conversation with exchange4media, speaks about plans for the channel, its rebranding, content strategy and more.
Speaking about the channel rebranding plans, Pocha said, “We are speaking to various designers and we are just about to nail down the contract. We have received proposals from some of the leading design houses from the US and the Continent - we are in the final negotiation stages about costing and other details. Right now, we are completely into the redesign – both of the channel and the website. Alongside, we are working on the new campaign for the relaunch and exploring the possibility of a new brand name for the channel.”
Stating that care would be taken to avoid the trend towards tabloidism, Pocha added, “Our intention is to respect the viewers and recognise that a very large number wants good quality news. They don’t not want cluttered screens; they don’t want people screaming at them; they don’t want everything labelled ‘Breaking News’; they don’t want excessive opinionating. They just want the news straight up, presented well, in an engaging style. And there are not too many options for such viewers.”
While admitting that NewsX couldn’t compete with Times Now’s deep pockets or NDTV’s foot print or CNN-IBN’s market penetration, Pocha said, “The only way we can take on our competition is to out-think them”.
He further said, “The point is, we’re not aiming to be the No. 1 channel; we are not driven by that. We aim to be big enough to be relevant to viewers and advertisers, but mainly focus on creating a different news experience for viewers. I like to tell our team ‘Let’s be like Aamir Khan. Let’s be big, but not obsessed with being No. 1’. Of course, the trick here is not to become too different or too intellectual. It’s all about creating a balance.”
On being asked how NewX is going about creating content differentiation, Pocha replied, “It’s about orienting and motivating the reporters and hence, getting them to see the story from a certain eye. We have been doing that for the last 3-4 months now and I think regular viewers will tell you that News X provides a very different viewing experience now. I must also clarify that this is not a comment on what other channels are doing. I have great respect for our competitors. All the other channels, particularly NDTV, have been in the industry for a long time and they have done a great job of developing our industry and serving our democracy. It’s just that we don’t want to imitate our competitors.”
He also ruled out planning any new channels right now as the focus was to get NewsX right. He said, “We have less money, smaller pockets compared to our competitors, and so we must be cautious and also stagger our expenses. We are also going relatively slow in some areas because we change is hard for organisations and NewsX has already been through a lot.”
This has applied to new appointments as well. “We are slow in hiring senior people, because we want to pick carefully and also because the organisation must be able to digest their entry well. Hence, we have hired department heads only every month or so – this brings only one or two senior people in at one time. For example, we just brought in Monjit Sharma as Sales Head, and the month before we brought in Shamya Dasgupta to head sports, and before that Nitin Sukhija to lead entertainment,” Pocha added.
Some of the other key appointments have been VK Shashikumar as Head of Special Investigations and News Programming, Sanjay Singh as Resident Editor in Mumbai, and Nandita Kumar as General Manager in charge of Distribution and Strategic Planning. All three were brought in, in August 2009. These apart, Rahul Kulshreshtha has come on board as Consultant for Technical Operations; Monica Malik has joined as Executive Producer; and Sukarno Sen has been brought in as Bureau Chief in Kolkata.
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