"We are looking forward to BARC as the present ratings system is not up to the mark"

Avinash Kaul, CEO, ET Now, Times Now & Zoom talks about the content orientation of Zoom, 10+2 ad cap challenge, ratings scenario & paid news, among other things...

e4m by Abhinav Trivedi
Updated: Oct 24, 2013 8:37 AM
"We are looking forward to BARC as the present ratings system is not up to the mark"

“As perceived, Zoom is not a gossip channel,” said Avinash Kaul, CEO, ET Now, Zoom and Times Now, adding that covering the business of the glamour world is tricky.

In a free-wheeling interview with exchange4media, Kaul talks about the content orientation of Zoom, 10+2 ad cap challenge, ratings scenario, and emergence of paid news, among other things…

Excerpts:

What have been some of the recent initiatives taken by Zoom? What is the response garnered?
First initiative is the re-launch is of our flagship show ‘Planet Bollywood’. It is now an hour-long show as opposed to half an hour earlier. Considering the size of the Bollywood industry, the earlier duration was not justified. We also launched another show called ‘Bollywood Breathless’, which is latest and crispy news of Bollywood in 60 minutes. Another show ‘Gen Next’ is about next generation Bollywood actors and their lifestyle. The response to all of them has been good.

Zoom has been criticised by many critics and media analysts, accusing the channel of carrying gossip-oriented news, manufacturing and planting stories. What do you have to say to that?
If we don’t do stories, then movie makers say that we don’t cover them. When we do, they say we plant stories. What is the basis of such allegations?  We are covering the business of glamour world. The orientation and the approach of serving content might appear to be manufacturing, but then that is how things are done. The content is actually aspiring. We are pioneers in our field. We also make some programmes for Doordarshan. We are therefore relied upon, as we know how this business works.

People from Tier II & III towns lap up such content. Because your viewership primarily comes from such places, isn’t your content tailor-made for them?
As I said, the content is aspiring for all demographics. Our core TG is people between 15-24 years of age, irrespective of the place they belong to. The approach towards doing such stories is in the style of Bollywood, the industry we cover. We are a combination of music, feature and news. Our content is enjoyed by our target group.

Talking about main stream media, what is your view on paid news?
We don’t practice it. Some players might do, but we don’t understand the viability of such things. It is not even viable for our business.

Many senior media analysts and lawyers have been vocal about the fact that the Times Group is aggressive on political scams but not on corporate scams? What do you have to say to that?
In a way, who covers corporate scams today? We don’t have designated sectors for such things. When we find something, we expose it, regardless of its origin.

What is your take on the 10+2 ad cap?
It is an industry norm and we are following it. However, I must state that the timing of regulation is not appropriate. Industry needs to earn its dues first. Whether the norm is justified or not, will eventually be decided by time, but as of now, certainly the timing is not appropriate.

What is your take on the prevalent ratings system?
I have very extreme views on the ratings system. I don’t think the present system is up to the mark. I am looking forward to BARC. There is a considerable progress on that front.

How much has been the reduction in carriage fees? By when do you expect digitisation to start giving results?
There has been some reduction. Somewhere the reduction is between 15-20 per cent. But it is certainly not what was spoken about when digitisation was initiated.

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