Regional channels making their presence felt nationally: S Divaakar, First News

Divaakar on spending 25 years in media, the soon-to-be launched First News Channel, changes he has witnessed in Kannada viewership, media selling and more

e4m by Neethu Mohan
Updated: Sep 10, 2018 8:51 AM

S Divaakar, who has been instrumental in the launch and growth of prominent Kannada news channels such as TV9, Public TV, ETV Kannada news, has completed 25 years in the media industry. He has now joined the soon-to-be-launched First News Kannada channel as the Head of Sales and Marketing.

Divaakar began his career as a sales executive in Udaya TV when the channel was launched in 1994, post which he has worked with popular channels Gemini TV, Jaya TV, ETC, Zee Network, Sahara One, Filmy and TV9. Divaakar speaks about his 25 years in media, the soon-to-be launched First News Channel, changes he has witnessed in Kannada viewership, media selling and more.

Excerpts:

Tell us about your 25 years of journey in the media world?

25 years in the media world has been a wonderful journey. While many people think that we are in a rather entertaining industry, no one knows that we are the bridge between Clients and Viewers. Media industry can be compared to an ocean wherein the more you deep dive, the more you learn. I have been delivered only treasures by many organisations where I have worked and learnt many aspects from all the ups and downs, which I have faced till now.

It feels like yesterday, ever increasing complexity of media planning, a bundle choice to advertisers, shift of media consumption etc. has made my last 25 years a learning experience. So, what was valid a few years ago, stands null and void today. When I saw the evolution from TAM to BARC, I could see a sea change in approach and planning.

I have been fortunate enough to work with some of the best minds in the industry. To name a few, Clifford Pereira, Prem Kumar , V Madhusudhanan, Bikash Kundu, Sparsh Ganguli, Vijay Bobby, Sridhar Pongur, Liji Koshy, K Balaswaminathan, Ajay Ramanujam. Today while I continue my journey I’m also learning a lot from the younger generation and I’m in no hurry to stop.

Tell us more about the soon-to-be-launched channel, First News.

The master minds behind this channel are Ravi Kumar and Maruti, they have been in the Media industry for a long time and are completely aware of the TV viewership pattern and pulse of Kannada viewers.

First News as a News Channel wants to stand “unique” compared to other Kannada news channels, which we will be proving in the coming days. We are all set to launch the channel and the date will be announced soon. News Genre is a known ambience to me. I know that I can get only pearls not castoffs this time, I am very affirmative about it.

What according to you are the significant changes Kannada media industry has undergone in terms of viewership pattern and programmes?

The media industry in Kannada has undergone a lot of changes over 25 years. Viewer number has significantly increased, content delivery has changed from orthodox news presenting style to chit chat version. Every programme has to be logical and has to deal with social causes.

During those days we had something called Diary Panel, where a door-to-door survey was taken on channel and programme viewership. I have seen the changeover of measuring TV viewership pattern from Diary Panels to TAM and BARC.

A lot of Kannada channels have started in recent years where every channel is focused on breaking news and reaching the viewers first, but this has resulted in forgetting the real concept of news. Versatility is the key word in TV, viewers need various programmes from political shows to entertainment programmes. It is the duty of the people behind the channel to look into the programming needs of the viewers. Today viewers are bombarded with umpteen number of channels and because of that, people will not wait for a particular channel or show, it’s a humongous task for channels like us to maintain the regular viewership numbers.

The regional markets for TV are showing growth due to improved measurement by the viewership monitoring agency Broadcast Audience Research Council India, which is now also measuring rural and regional markets. You have worked with almost all leading Kannada news channels in their nascent stages, so what according to you are the opportunities and challenges new entrant channels will have to face? Every channel has various opportunities and challenges, but how we cater to those opportunities and challenges are very important. As per my knowledge, if we provide the audience with quality and fact-oriented content, half the problem is solved.

Coming to news channels, it’s all about who breaks the news and reaches the audience first. But, while in the race to reach first, channels should focus on fact-oriented reporting. It is just not about delivering news first but also how much fact and truth a specific news story carries. Regional channels are making their presence felt nationally, digitisation is one main reasons behind this. As First News, we are gearing up to beat the challenges and accept all the opportunities that come our way.

What are the changes you have witnessed in media sales in the TV sector over the years?

Career opportunities in the sales sector has grown significantly. 25 years back, we struggled to build revenue for channels as there were few clients. Now with increased number of clientele revenue opportunities are vast. The Indian Media and Entertainment industry is on an inspiring growth path. The industry is projected to grow at a much faster rate than the global average rate. The huge success of sports properties like the Indian Premiere League and T20 World Cup were essential in providing a boost to advertising revenues. The telecast of these properties in regional languages helped channels in terms of revenue.

According to you, where is the Kannada media industry headed?

Kannada Media industry has grown considerably in the past few years. It has carved its own niche in the media industry and proven that it is dynamic and a potential market for investors. Earlier the Kannada media industry had few corporate clients, now there are several corporate clients investing in the media industry to increase their revenue and sales. At First News, we are planning to cater to many clients in unique ways with best strategic plans.

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