FY 2020 is a defining year for Suvarna News: Appachoo NK, Business Head

Appachoo N K, who heads the business functions of Suvarna News & Kannada Prabha at AMEL spoke on Kannada Prabha’s achievement in IRS survey, key focus areas and more

e4m by Neethu Mohan
Updated: May 1, 2019 8:52 AM
Appachoo NK

Suvarna News, the Kannada news channel under Asianet News Media & Entertainment Pvt Ltd (AMEL), has completed 11 years in the television industry. The channel, launched in March 2008, has played a significant role in shaping news culture among the Kannada audience. Suvarna News was the first channel to have live reporting capability from six different bureaus in Karnataka. Kannada Prabha, the Kannada daily from the group, is among the top 5 Kannada newspapers in the IRS 2019 readership survey. The newspaper has added around 3.9 lakh readers since IRS 2017. 

Appachoo N K,  Business Head, AMEL  who is heading the business functions of Suvarna News and Kannada Prabha spoke to exchange4media on the channel’s 11 years, Kannada Prabha’s achievement in IRS survey, key focus areas etc. 
Speaking on the IRS report, Appachoo said, “Kannada Prabha has seen an increase in total readership by 17.4 per cent in IRS Q1 2019 which is the highest for the Kannada print industry. The key factor to this growth is the quality of content delivered by the editorial team, led by our editor-in-chief, Ravi Hegde. We had also introduced a special student edition of the newspaper in 2018 to promote readership among the youth.”

Edited excerpts:

On completing 11 years of Suvarna News in the TV industry

The Karnataka news market has seen high growth in viewership over the last 10 years and Suvarna News has been in the forefront of this growth. Being one of the professionally run private news channels in this market, Suvarna News is a pioneer in setting the agenda for news and standing true to the commitment of being straight, bold and relentless. Despite the number of news channels in this genre rising from 2 to 20, Suvarna News’s loyal audience have ensured that the channel has retained its podium spot. The channel is a sought after employer for journalists and other news staff. 

On challenges during the initial days 

Technology: The state of the art facility at Suvarna News was the first channel to have live reporting capability from six different bureaus in Karnataka. This enabled us to have the fastest breaking news and reportage on the channel. 

Content Differentiation: Suvarna News’s programming brought many new concepts to Kannada news television. Programs like ‘Cover Story’, based on investigative journalism, ‘Suvarna Focus’, based on current affairs, ‘FIR’, based on crime stories, and many such programming concepts were loved by audiences and it gave a unique character to the channel.
On increased viewership in the news genre as a regional player 

Differentiated content amongst news channels would be a key contributor to increase the viewership of news channels in the regional space. This has been proven in the last 2-3 years, especially in the Kannada news genre where we have seen growth in viewership from 250 rating points in 2016 to 450 rating points today. This translates to a growth of 20 per cent every year for the genre. Suvarna News will continue to differentiate in its content thereby increasing the viewership of the channel and the genre. 

There is also a shift to digital news consumption seen amongst viewers of television news. Going forward, this will be the norm of the industry. To adapt better, we have also improved our integration with digital mediums through our presence on our website. The channel is also present on various social media platforms where we offer exclusive previews of our programs in turn pulling viewers to the channel. 
Also, as a group, Suvarna News along with our other channel – Asianet News and Republic TV, one of our significant media investments have expanded the TV viewership in the news genre.  
On General Elections content line up

We have a slew of programs lined up for the current General Elections. These will be under the banner titled ‘Mahabharata Sangrama’. Some of the programs under this banner are, ‘Mega Fight’, a program which conducts on ground debates at every constituency in Karnataka, ‘Follow the Leader’ program covering the campaigns of key candidates in the state, and ‘Janata Meter’ program featuring opinion of the general electorate.

Apart from these specialised programs, we also have our opinion polls, surveys and campaigns to encourage general public to vote. All of these programs have a close integration with our digital content strategy, by which we have tried to engage audiences across different target groups in the state.  

On TRAI’s new tariff regime 

We welcome the new tariff regime rolled out by TRAI. The regime brings about much needed transparency in pricing for broadcasters, distributors and consumers. If implemented in the right manner, broadcasters will stand to benefit from reduced distribution costs since TRAI has fixed a price of Rs 0.2 per STB. Consumers also have a choice to select their preferred channels and pay for them as per the price fixed by the broadcaster.

Regional news channels are mostly FTA. Due to the new tariff regime, it is likely that there might be a dip in viewership initially for some channels since consumers would take time to select the channels in their FTA pack. Channels with good content and a loyal viewership will not be impacted since customers will always choose them. Impact on ad rates will be known only once viewership and ratings stabilise.

Suvarna News focus areas for 2019

FY 2020 is a defining year for Suvarna News. We have a slew of new initiatives which we are pursuing this year such as -
1. Technology - an HD upgradation of our technical setup with world class service providers and an integrated newsroom of our television and digital journalists. The HD upgrade of our infrastructure is expected to provide a major boost in quality of reception of our channel. This will be a boost for the channel and viewers would be able to clearly differentiate Suvarna News in the market. Suvarna News will lead the way in being the first HD ready television news channel in Karnataka.
2. Digital integration – With our content strategy and integration with the digital medium, we aspire to be the go to destination for Kannada news content online.
3. Expanding our viewership and ad market share substantially with a series of strategic changes both in content and distribution of the channel.

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