We aim to address a distinct need gap in the news market: Deepak Choudhry, Harvest TV News

Harvest TV News will stand against the cacophony, innuendos and insults that we witness on TV daily, says Choudhry, President, Veecon Media and Broadcasting Ltd

by Ruhail Amin
Published - Feb 4, 2019 8:25 AM Updated: Feb 4, 2019 8:25 AM
Deepak Choudhry

The launch of Harvest TV News (HTN), the new English Channel owned by Veecon Media and Broadcasting Group, has once again brought back the question—why a news channel at this stage in an already cluttered TV news marketplace?

The launch has been termed politically motivated by a section of the media, given the fact that some top politicians are among its promoters. However, Deepak Choudhry, President, Veecon Media and Broadcasting Ltd, refuted the claims and shared with exchange4media how HTN would stand against the cacophony, innuendos and insults that we witness on TV news day in and day out.

Excerpts:

What was your motivation to launch a new channel at this stage?
Well, we’ve been striving to rebrand and re-launch news channels for a while. We are of the firm belief that news has to be fair, independent, impartial, simple, and delivered in an engaging manner. When we look around the news universe at this time, we only find cacophony, innuendos, insults and over-the-top drama on most channels. It is our intention to bring news back to the TV viewers, to inform and engage with them.

A lot of people are saying the channel has been launched keeping the elections in mind?
It is not true at all.  As I said in my previous answer, it is well known that we’ve been trying this rebranding exercise of channels for some time. We re-launched now as things fell into place at this time. It is a mere coincidence that the elections are only 70 to 75 days away.

With senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal being part of this venture, many believe that the channel serves a particular political agenda ? Your thoughts?

It is incorrect to describe Mr Sibal as the proprietor of the news channel. As explained ,We are relaunching and expanding and to achieve this we have tied up with other partners and groups. Among these our major partnership  is with  Analog Media Private Ltd owned by Promilaa Sibal. Ms Sibal is a businesswoman in her own right. Her foray into media is her independent professional venture and must be assessed as such. Her vision is to create a premium digital content product with Veecon media. On the issue of objectivity we welcome all shades of political opinion and parties on our platform. Our editorial policy strictly emphasises balanced representation of all political views and our first week on air would reflect that and is available for anyone to see.

In an already cluttered TV news marketplace, how is Harvest TV trying to position itself differently?
Our Channel’s promise is we’re a platform ‘Where Truth Matters’. We aim to address a distinct need gap in the news market by doing accurate, objective, fact and research based news, and analytical content presented for the thinking English-speaking television audience, which is fed up with the chaos that prevails in most of the TV news universe. The channel will ask the right questions, be fair and not editorialise while offering news. We seek to provide substantial takeaways for the viewer who spends time with us. We will allow space for an alternative narrative which needs to be told while avoiding jingoism on air.

There is a section which thinks TV news has become noise and mere theatrics. In this kind of environment, what editorial line has Harvest TV planned for its viewers?
If you’ve seen us on air, you would’ve noticed that we’ve a clean and uncluttered look. We would like to take the same uncluttered approach to our news and analysis. We certainly feel there is space for a news channel which allows its viewers an opportunity to absorb news, information and analysis in an organized and civil manner. This doesn’t ever mean we’ll be soft on anyone or lazy in our news dissemination. For us, accuracy and balance are the mantras of news content. We’ll be critical where necessary and positive and complimentary where required.  

In your view, what are the three big challenges facing TV news industry today?
For us, I believe, the three challenges are growing our viewership as quickly as possible, occupying a niche in the market which we can own, keeping costs under control and managing the onerous task of keeping the channel away from political influence with focus on content that ought to be offered. 

How important are ratings for you?
We take ratings very seriously as they drive advertising and sponsorships to the channel. We’re conscious that we must make the channel pay for itself by generating revenues. But, we’re realistic enough to know that this is not going to happen overnight. We need to perform consistently and efficiently to ensure that when viewers sample us, they are not disappointed and they stay with us. We have to live up to our promise, and that we will certainly do. 

What is your vision for Harvest TV? Where do you see Harvest TV two years from now?
We’ll ensure that Harvest TV becomes the preferred choice for news viewers, for whom news in not mere entertainment. Through our content, we’ll ensure substantial takeaways, viewer engagement and empowerment.

We’ve ambitious plans for Harvest TV. Now that our English news channel has been re-launched, we would like to enter the Hindi news channel market as the viewership, and therefore, revenues are much bigger there. One addresses a very large target group when one broadcasts news in Hindi and other regional languages. At some stage in the future, we’d also like to enter the TV entertainment space.

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