Brands & advertisers have always respected and supported balanced news: Rajat Sharma

According to NBA President Sharma, there should be a premium for fair news to encourage responsible reporting

e4m by Tasmayee Laha Roy
Updated: Oct 5, 2020 8:25 AM
Rajat Sharma

Amid debates and discussions about toxicity of content in news channels in the present times, News Broadcasters Association (NBA) stands for balanced news. According to NBA President Rajat Sharma, who is the Chairman & Editor-in-Chief of India TV, balanced news is the only way ahead for broadcasters as well as all their stakeholders.

Credibility, according to Sharma, is of paramount importance for a news broadcaster and the most important rule to play by. Credibility of content has made viewership of certain news channels shoot through the roof during the lockdown. Two weeks into the lockdown, the news genre saw a growth of 298 per cent as compared to the time before the Covid-19 outbreak. Even through the unlock phases, news viewership kept cutting into GEC primetime consumption across languages.
“News is about credibility. It is our duty to present facts in a fair and fearless manner keeping a balance. Being dramatic about serious issues and becoming fiction writers in such matters is irresponsible and insensitive. Facts presented with sincerity and without taking sides will always have impact,” said Sharma.

News, however, has a lot more to it. Citing an example of how objective news reporting can help in the larger scheme of things, Sharma said, “Just this Friday, the Allahabad High Court took suo moto cognizance of India TV’s news reports in the case of the teenager (ganrape case) from Hathras. The high court, referring to the facts in India TV’s news reports, has issued notices to UP government.”

Coming to the big question of whether lack of unnecessary drama drives the advertisers away? If TAM numbers are anything to go by, news as a genre has been the biggest gainer in terms of ad revenues.

As per the latest TAM data, news genre added 31 per cent share of ad volumes between August and September, leaving behind GEC’s share of 26 per cent.

“For advertisers, the environment where they are placing their brand is very important. This is where credibility, fairness and trust of the viewer comes in. Especially matters where somebody’s life, dignity or religious sentiment is involved, broadcasters’ as well as advertisers’ responsibility must be fixed. Even viewers in our country do not appreciate intimidation and harassment of people. A channel may succeed in drawing their attention through theatrics, but it is temporary,” Sharma said.

According to Sharma, channels that uphold the sanctity of journalistic standards should be placed in a niche category. The NBA president is confident that advertisers too are aware of this category of news channels.

“I appreciate that in India, brands and advertisers have always respected and supported balanced news. Whenever a news channel has targeted individuals or tried to pursue an agenda with ulterior motives, it did not get support from advertisers and media planners. There should be a premium for fair news to encourage responsible reporting,” he said.

NBA represents the private television news and current affairs broadcasters. It is the collective voice of the news and current affairs broadcasters in India. It presently has 27 leading news and current affairs broadcasters (comprising 77 news and current affairs channels) as its members.

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