With just a few days left for the Union Budget 2006, Hindi news channels are on an overdrive to present the most comprehensive picture of the annual stocktaking of the Indian economy. Exchange4media takes an indepth look at what viewers can expect from different channels this Budget season.
Aaj Tak has divided its pre-budget programming into two segments – Live Segment and Recorded Segment. The latter is further divided into three parts, 'Badalta Bharat', 'Industry Speak' and Suniye Vitt Mantri Report.
The Budget day proceedings on Aaj Tak will cover topics ranging from expectations from the budget based on the summary of 'Suniye Vitt Mantri ji' series, expectations of the MPs from the budget, as well as live panel discussion from the BSE.
Post the budget speech, the channel will carry analytical views with industry chiefs at the BSE, Ficci and CII. The other programming line up of Aaj Tak on the Budget day include, 'Kya Suna Vitta Mantri Ne', 'Yuva Generation Next'.
Aaj Tak will also showcase a special discussion on tax changes with focus on income tax and investment. Besides, a panel discussion with CEOs of various companies and politicians will also take place.
From 10 pm onwards, the channel will showcase 'Chidambaram ka bazaar', a two-hour programme, wherein the channel will be creating a virtual set akin to a mall where viewers will be taken through different sections of the mall representing various sectors of the economy.
Qamar Waheed Naqvi, News Director, Aaj Tak, said, "Our programmes cater to different segments. We have tried to make a complicated and dry issue like budget more simplified, interesting and entertaining."
STAR News has titled its Budget line up as 'Ab Nahin To Kab'. The programmes that come under the umbrella brand include 'Ho Sakta hai', ' Dal Chahta Hai'.
Among the other programmes that are on the anvil, include, 'Fund Ka Funda Budget Special', which will be aired from February 24, and will continue till March 5. The channel will also cover the Railway Budget under its 'Sapno Ki Rail' programme.
STAR News had invited viewers to post their suggestions to the Finance Minister for the Budget through emails and SMSes between February 1 and 10. The channel will consolidate these responses and present a compilation of the people's wishes to the Finance Minister prior to the Budget in its programme, ' Kyunki Yeh Meri Jeb Hai'.
NDTV India's special Budget programming include 'Aam Aadmi ka Sikka', 'Kya Hua tera vaada', 'Tax Ka Chakkar', 'Hamara Budget' and 'Kya Chahata Hai India'. Besides there will be a 30-minute special programme called 'Paisa Vasool' on February 25 at 6:30 pm. The channel will be also airing one-hour specials titled 'Hum Log Special' on February 26, and 'Hamara Budget' on February 28.
On February 28, NDTV India will be carrying, 'Janta ki awaaz' at 6 pm, followed by a special interview with the Finance Minister at 7:30 pm. 'Khabardar Tax Vishesh' will focus on the various tax announcements in the Budget and what they mean for the comman man.
Commenting on the Budget programming strategy, Dibang, Managing Editor, NDTV India, said, "Our programming is skewed towards making the budget accessible to the common man. Its geared towards the normal TV viewer. We will touch upon issues like inflation and fiscal deficit, but they won't be our core focus areas."
The Zee Network has a somewhat dramatic title for its budget line up – 'Sabse Bada Rupaiyya'. Though the network has a business channel, some of the programmes will be simulcast on both channels. For example, the Network is currently running a programme called ''Hamari Awaaz Suno', which comes on Zee Business at 6 pm and on Zee News at 10.30 pm. This trend will be followed with another programme called 'The Great Indian Dream', which will be aired on Zee News at 8.30 pm and on Zee Business at 10 pm on February 27.
Samir Ahluwalia, Editor, Zee Business, said, "In a first of its kind show, Zee News Network has signed on noted management guru, Arindam Chaudhari, to present 'The Great Indian Dream'. This programme will select five people who represent 80 per cent Indians. The programme will try and create a Budget where the aspirations of these people can be met."
Sahara Samay has already begun its Budget programming with 'Saral Budget', which has been running since February 1 and will continue till February 28. It gives the history of the Indian Budget and seeks to simplify it for the lay person. 'FM Meri Awaaz Suno', the 30-minute show that was on air from February 15-18 captured the expectations of the target consumer groups like working couples, young entrepreneurs and senior citizens.
Sahara Samay also brings forth the views of top industry honchos like Jagdish Khattar, MD, MUL; Sunil K Munjal, CMD, Hero Group; and Malvinder Singh, CMD, Ranbaxy, among others, through its programme 'Budget Vote'.
'Agar Mein Vitt Mantri Hota', on air from February 16, highlights the views of well-known persons from different walks of life on what they would do if they became the FM. 'Budget: Niti Ya Rajniti', which began from February 22, has been conceptualised keeping in mind the common focus areas – taxation, Budget in coalition era, Governance, Budget and agriculture, and Budget and CMP.
On Budget day, the channel will air 'Apka Budget', which will feature expert views on various subjects like taxation, agriculture, infrastructure, banking, health care and education as also bring live the voice of India on these critical issues.
When asked about the expectations from these programmes, Prabhat Dabral, Vice-President, Sahara Samay, said, "Budget programmes are niche product, which are sponsored by corporates, thereby adding value to our brand."
As far as India TV is concerned, Chintamani Rao, India TV, CEO, said, "India TV's budget coverage would give centrestage to the ordinary television viewers. 'India Bole' would capture street interviews with ordinary citizens and reflect opinions of a wide cross-section of citizens – housewives, shopkeepers, young adults – on issues concerning their daily lives. 'Dear FM' will capture Budget expectations from household names in a format quite unique to India TV. Our "Budget Flashes" will provide easy to understand information right through B-Day. The section will be backed by a unique advertising opportunity. Finally, "Budget India" will showcase live links across important cities bringing in easy to understand inputs from experts."
DD News will roll out its Budget specials from February 23, where, on the eve of the Railway Budget, it will telecast 'Wheels of Progress'. The national broadcaster will be analysing the Rail Budget through Pre- and Post-Rail Budget discussions on February 24.
In a run up to live telecast of the General Budget, DD News will telecast a daily programme, 'Aasha Aur Apeksha – Budget 2006' between February 24 and 27, which will cover different themes like crude prices and inflationary pressures, agriculture employment, tax reforms, VAT and FBT, among others.
On February 27, DD News will also telecast a special one-hour programme focusing on the Economic Survey. Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, along with the anchors, will conduct panel discussion with economists with live inputs from the stock markets and reactions from the chambers of commerce, besides the FM.
The Budget Day on February 28 will begin with a pre-Budget discussion with live inputs of experts from stock markets and chambers of commerce. The channel will also carry a one and a half hour post-budget discussion with live inputs from the Prime Minister, his Cabinet colleagues, key politicians, and the industry honchos.
The channel will conclude its Budget coverage with two special post-Budget discussions at night.