News Next 2020: Regional channels are a potent tool for the common people: Experts

Dr Bhuvan Lal, Saam TV's Nilesh Khare, S K Shama Sundara of Suvarnanews.com/Asianet Kannada & Manoj Manu, of Sahara Samay News deliberated the future of TV news

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Feb 24, 2020 9:06 AM
News Next 2020 Unlocking the power of Indian languages news channel

The 9th edition of the e4m News Next Conference was held on Saturday in Delhi. The theme for the conference this year was ‘Future of News Television in the Digital Era.’ There were many intriguing sessions on the News media ecosystem, how it will evolve in the coming years and how advertisers can leverage from the same.

One such panel discussion was on the topic of 'Unlocking the Power of the Indian Language News Channels'. This is an area that has enormous potential. It is the only silver lining in the financial news business. This is where the regional news channels come in.

The session chair for the panel was Dr Bhuvan Lall, Filmmaker and athor, Lall Brothers Entertainment who anchored the conversation. The other eminent members were Nilesh Khare, Channel Head & Editor, Saam TV, S K Shama Sundara, Chief Editor, Suvarnanews.com/Asianet Kannada Digital and Manoj Manu, Group Editor, Sahara Samay News Network.

It is easy to build up revenue with a regional channel because the cost is low and the regional market and advertisers are well defined.

Starting off the discussion, Manu, shared his views on the above-mentioned statement saying, “Media is a big platform. That is why for common people regional channels are potent. Because news about your state and district aren’t showcased on National news. That is why 24x 7 regional news channels like ours started. The only drawback was that it didn’t go beyond the Hindi-speaking states and the other media houses reached there. When regional channels started people thought that regional channels showcase the problems in our areas whether those problems were National or state-driven.”

Commenting on the revenue of regional channels, Manu said, “Sahara has a national and regional channel as well. So, they garner the revenue of the National and GRP too. Regional channels have an issue with revenue whether that is because of sales or government revenue”.

Sundara said regional channels are close to people. He added, “I always chose to be pro-active and choose the regions comedic route to talk to my audience. I have done a lot of anchoring and discussions on Budget. Both on Karnataka and the National Budget. In the end, after the Finance Minister presents it, I ask the audience how do you rate this budget?”

Manu agrees that the penetration of the regional channel in the area of its prominence is somewhat higher in comparison to a nationally recognised channel. “National channels appeal to people in 5-star hotels and CEOs who are particularly in the capital like Bangalore. When we go to Tier 2 and 3 cities we are the heroes. We talk to our audience and they trust us more”, commented Manu.

In Maharashtra also, the scenario isn’t any different. Khare remarked, “In the first 2-3 top channels will be in Marathi. And after that, National channels will be ranked. If a National channel is making a 40 rate GRP, a Marathi news channel is making an approximate of 50 GRP which makes it the top channel. If we talk about the spot rate, there is a difference. The National spot rate is 10 times more than the regional spot rates. Even then, launching a regional channel in Maharashtra is difficult. The distribution cost is high.”

Manu opined that Digital platforms are a threat to TV news channels. However, the other two panellists shared that Digital platforms can drive the growth and amplify the growth of TV news channels.

The state elections in Maharashtra helped boost up the TRP ratings however, that was only for that event. Khare shared, “GEC channels dominate in Maharastra but during political turmoil, it was regional news channels that made it big.”

Ending the discussion, Khare sharing insights on how to develop a broad mind for regional language channels and how it impacts its viewers signed off saying, “Out of 5 channels 4 are bouquet channels which are National channel options. My channel Saam TV is a channel from the Sakal Media group and if we talk about this year then we have been making sustainable revenue. We haven’t had losses. But in Maharashtra, the manpower cost is high and so is the distribution cost. If you are coming into the Maharashtra market you need to have good funds and a long term investment. There is a lot of market and opportunities. It all depends on how you invest in the channels.”

The takeaway from the session was to go back to the basics of journalism no matter what mediums we evolve too.

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