How CNBC-TV18 is breathing new life into the newsroom

Shereen Bhan, Managing Editor, CNBC-TV18 tells us more about the new line-up of programming and insights behind its launch

e4m by Dipali Banka
Published: Sep 14, 2020 1:22 PM  | 5 min read
Shereen Bhan

Owing to the pandemic and ensuing lockdown there has been a larger interest in the stock market from first time investors. Taking this and other structural changes into consideration, CNBC-TV18 has come up with a new line up of programming titled ‘Clutter Breakers’ that will help connect the dots and provide insights into the structural and economic changes we are witnessing.
Shereen Bhan, Managing Editor, CNBC-TV18 tells us more about the programming and insights behind its launch.

What has been the insight behind the launch of ‘Clutter Breakers’? What is going to be the key focus for this new programming line-up?
CNBC-TV18 has been the business news specialist for the last 20 years and as a market leader it is incumbent upon us to disrupt and reinvent ourselves, innovate and stay relevant and we believe that is the path to excellence. So when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was a challenge which required us to be much more agile, nimble and innovate our programming. That led us to think about how this is an opportunity to look at the changes that were happening not just in the Indian economy, but also the global economy and look at different sectors and consumer behaviour changes. I thought this would be an apt opportunity for us to once again be thought leaders and produce content that is relevant to the current times linked to the COVID-19 pandemic to help our viewers get a better understanding of the changes and the structural shifts that we are seeing. That was really the idea that drove me to create this new lineup of programming.

We also noticed that as people were working from home, there was this great interest in the stock market from first-time investors. This was also an opportunity for us to connect with a whole new universe of first-time investors. Our effort has been to try and simplify concepts related to the market, investment and really handhold these first-time investors as they make their foray and start their investment journey. What’s interesting is that we've empowered our younger anchors and analysts who are all sector specialists, and got them to front each of these new segments and give them ownership of these segments as well.

Aside from providing education and awareness about the stock market for first-time investors, what are some of the big focus areas for the new line of programming?
COVID-19 has really got about so many changes for the global economy and the Indian economy. So part of the programming is to understand what is happening with consumer behaviour, for instance with digital acceleration. What does that mean for the economy as a whole? What does it mean for individual companies and how are specific companies making the difficult pivots and how are business models changing? So, one aspect of the programming has been to understand the changes driven by COVID and we try to get the best voices and the most influential opinions from India and abroad.

The other aspect is based on the insight that we got that there is a resurgence of first-time investors through the direct route and not through mutual funds. And CNBC-TV18 has always been an investment ally and have always been at the forefront of investor information and education. So we decided to put together an offering that will simplify the market and be a ready reckoner, so to speak for these investors who are looking to make their first move into the stock market.

What are your key objectives on coming up with this programming? What's the kind of response to expect from your audience?
The response so far has been very positive, the feedback has been very strong. We've got the biggest voices joining us, and that is a vote of confidence when the country's biggest CEOs or global CEOs want to be seen on the platform. Secondly, all of these new clutter-breaker videos are viral on social media platforms. Each of these segments are being viewed lakhs of times. So it's also got a greater degree of engagement with our community. A lot of young viewers are engaging with the brand through this line of programming which is very young and fresh. We've made a big effort on keeping this as visual as possible. We've made use of our new state-of-the-art studios, and high-tech graphics and animation.

Obviously, working through this entire lockdown hasn't been easy for anybody. What have been your key challenges through this in terms of creating content for your channel and specifically for this particular new programming that you've come up with?
The challenges have really been to ensure that we deliver the promise of putting together credible content, not diluting our quality standards and yet not compromising on the safety of our team. So, the backend logistics of ensuring that our employees who are working from home are able to connect with our operations seamlessly, that there is a flow of communication that, that's been critical. One of the other things that we've been able to do very effectively is to ensure that whether it's our studios or it's our pickups and our drops, everything is sanitised. There is a lot of emphasis on SOPs that the staff has to follow, if you're in office, etc. We've also had to, you know work with teams coming in on alternate weeks. I don't think that there has been any dilution in quality or in programming. In fact, we've been doing more programming during this period than we usually do. But it has also got all of us closer together. Everyone sees that this is a challenge and it's a difficult period. But that’s why I believe that this was the opportunity for us to do something new and push the envelope. And I think that's given people the reason to feel infused, to not be weighed down by negative energy that's around us. And it's given people a purpose and something new to be passionate about. So it's really helped us energise our newsroom in a challenging time, in a difficult time and it's worked well for us.

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