We have not exploited our potential to the fullest -Shashi Shekhar Vempati, CEO, Prasar Bharati

In an exclusive interview with exchange4media, Vempati spoke about the challenges facing Prasar Bharati, his vision for the organisation and making it a digitally relevant and commercially viable organisation

Ruhail Amin 11-July-2017

It has been just about a month since Shashi Shekhar Vempati took over as the new Chief Executive Officer of Prasar Bharati. He has inherited an organisation that is beset with myriad challenges, including the mammoth task of making it relevant to the demands of the digital era. A technocrat to the core, Vempati has his game-plan chalked out for the next five years, which includes making Doordarshan (DD) and All India Radio (AIR) globally respected brands and transforming Prasar Bharati to a 21st century organisation that is commercially viable and technically relevant with a contemporary work culture in place. Excerpts:


Prasar Bharati is one of the largest media organisations and yet it has never been able to leverage this position, how are you planning to make it more contemporary and more market friendly?


If you look at the history of Prasar Bharati, it was created as a public broadcaster, as a statutory body and not as a corporation under the Companies Act. And then Doordarshan (DD) and All India Radio (AIR) were brought into its fold.


Over the last two decades, there are a lot of areas where modernisation should have happened; unfortunately it did not happen for various reasons. The pressing need is to make this as a corporate for the 21st century and transform it into a media organisation that operates in this digital era with modern practices. So the vision is largely about how do we make it 21st century media organisation, how do we bring in modern corporate practices, how to bring technology into all aspects of the organisation and be ready for the digital era both domestically and globally. We are the largest democracy and the youngest democracy with a billion people, but we do not have a strong global voice. So we need to create that just like the BBC, Aljazeera or Russia Today.


Is there also need for rebranding since public broadcasters are merely seen as mouthpieces of the government? How do you plan to address this perception?


There are a couple of things about the role of public broadcaster. One aspect is the news. Today if you look at AIR News, it has more than a million followers on Twitter. Look at DD News, a million plus followers on Twitter. You don’t build this kind of base if you are just a mouthpiece of the government. I track social media every day and I see comments from all kinds of people, not by people who are associated with any party or any ideology. The general perception is that while various private channels feature news, which is driven by an agenda, if you want pure news you will watch Doordarshan and that credibility still stands. But what we need to do is to amplify that. Today if you go to the tier 2 tier 3 cities, they listen to AIR News and watch DD and even BARC data supports that. So I don’t buy this perception, which is the view of the elites, because they have a different way of looking at news. But if you want real news without any agenda, it’s DD and AIR.



How do you plan to take on the private players?


I don’t see private players as competitors in the same sense; they could be partners as well. My canvas is more global. So when I look at the impact of a public broadcaster in the news space, I want to build a strong global voice. I won’t get caught in the domestic competition between various private channels. Moreover, they are going after a miniscule portion of the population. If you look at the BARC data, our share is more than 50 per cent in English news while the private players have 40 per cent or less. So we have the widest reach in that sense. And about the larger point of attracting the elite audience, it’s a very valid feedback. I think we have to improve the quality of our programs to attract the interest of opinion makers and influencers.


Despite the great market share, why is Prasar Bharati not able to leverage this potential commercially?


Yes, we have not exploited our potential to the fullest. The reason for this is legacy issues. We are a statutory body not a corporate one, and that poses a lot of restrictions on what you do and what you don’t do. So you cannot be commercially competitive in the same sense that a private corporate can be while chasing advertising dollars. 


Having said this, it is not an excuse for why our marketing teams should not be effective and efficient and use modern tools and modern practices in order to utilise our inventory better. So this is something which we are beginning to do, and a couple of initiatives will be rolled out so that we can create some incentives for the sales teams to do a better job.


What specific steps will make Prasar Bharati a commercially viable organisation?


DD Free Dish I think is a good example of how within the constraints of the environment that we operate in, we were able to create a new market and a new revenue stream.


Free Dish created the Free to Air (FTA) revolution. Earlier you had content that was primarily targeted at the urban audience. Now, if you look at BARC data, the free-to-air channels which went on DD Free Dish have got a larger audience base across the country and are counted among the top ten. That is a big shift and we made it happen by opening up entertainment to a much larger part of the population. Similar opportunities exist with other technologies. There is digital terrestrial and there is digital radio. So the future will be –how can we create new platforms which take both information and entertainment to a large part of the population and create commercial value.


I would say we are not necessarily competing with the private players for ad revenues. Instead we are creating a platform where they can come in as partners and it is a win-win situation for both.


How tough is it for legacy organisations to become digital first entities, both at the technological and cultural fronts?


It is a big challenge on multiple fronts. It is a challenge culturally because if you look at our workforce, India may be a young country but Prasar Bharati is an ageing organisation. The workforce is largely in its 50s. In the next five to six years you will have a big chunk who will be retiring. So that itself is a big challenge.


Second is the adoption of technology. Now on some fronts we have been very effective. In DTH we have done a good job and soon we will roll out the next version of the set-top boxes. Similarly, when it comes to embracing social media, I think we have done a decent job. Now what we need to do is to focus on the cutting edge, and that is going to require innovation to become more relevant to the youth. And this can happen only with digital.


We have also started some internal changes. For example internally we didn’t have a HR system for a long time. Over the last one year, the HR information system has been created. Though it’s a small step but it’s a big change for the organisation and the beginning has been made. Similarly we are digitising our land records so that we know what our assets are across the country. So there are efforts, we just need to streamline them and bring in an IT structure, which doesn’t exist right now.


What are the biggest challenges facing AIR and DD, in your view?


The biggest gap is that we have neglected the human resources issues for long. So we have an ageing workforce which has been neglected over the last two decades. Many of them have not got promotions; many have retired in the same post. So we have to work in a mission mode to address these legacy HR issues. Once the workforce is motivated they will become agile and wherever necessary we will re-skill them for the digital era and then we can move fast.


Do you see DD becoming a global brand like BBC, Aljazeera? Can it happen?


It is an imperative and we have to rise to the challenge. To the question, can it happen, I would say we don’t have a choice, we have to make it happen. How will we make it happen is something we will debate and figure out both within the organisation and with any partners who are willing to come on board and the supporting ministry, I&B and External Affairs. This no doubt will be a big vehicle for India’s soft power.


How are you planning to leverage social media to increase the influence of DD and AIR?


Both AIR News and DD News have a large base of followers on social media. People see them as brands that give credible news. Yes, we have to adopt best practices and that is going to be a big area of focus.


How has the journey from a corporate to a public organisation been so far, did you face any surprises during this transition?


Thankfully it’s not a complete transition because I was with the board for the last one year. So I was exposed to a lot of issues and the way the organisation works. I have never signed my name so many times on paper, which I did here, because we are still very paper oriented in the way we work.


On the brighter side, for the first time Prasar Bharati’s accounts were closed on time and before the deadline, since its existence. So there is automation that is happening but we have to do it at a much larger scale and do that within some constraints as we are operating in a government regulated set up. 


Since AIR News has not been able to leverage the commercial potential, do you think it’s time for private players to pitch in?


I think it’s a policy matter and a prerogative of the government. I’m sure the ministry will take a view on that and I won’t be able to comment because it’s not under my jurisdiction.


But I have said this before too that irrespective of what the policy is, AIR News should be competitive and efficient. Because technology is fast changing and what we did yesterday gets obsolete in a very short cycle. We are not thinking about the future, we are not efficient and competitive. So irrespective of which direction the policy goes, we have to be ready for the future.


What are your top three priorities for 2017?


One of the first things is to get the planning around English news and Hindi news and give it an international focus so that we start the process of building that global brand. 

Second is to streamline our IT operations and start modernising the way we do things. And third is the big one—how to resolve our workforce issues. I don’t know if that can be done in one year but we will definitely work on it.


DD Free Dish has been a game changer in its space, where does it go from here?


We are soon going to expand the number of channels and bring in new partners. The second aspect of Free Dish is how we make it more interesting for consumers with its new capabilities. Also, can we enable new models of content consumption with a large population in mind? Today the barrier for them to watch a premium sports channel is high. The challenge is to think of premium models where the content can be accessed by them on this mass platform. So we will have to look at all those things.


Are you also looking at targeting the smart phone users specifically since that is where the maximum content consumption is taking place?


Yes the future is going to be digital, it’s going to be mobile. So when we will roll out the new features of Free Dish and you will see that mobile will be an interesting part of it.

On the news front, when we do English content on the global front, mobile definitely will be an important part of it. So definitely mobile is an important game changing vehicle and as we roll out at each of these fronts there will be an important mobile element.


There were some recommendations during the UPA regime, are you planning to consider them while strategising the new direction for Prasar Bharati?


Yes, it has been in the public domain for a long time and there is nothing partisan about those recommendations. These are recommendations that are still relevant. In fact I was reading a report headed by Narayan Murthy in the late 1990’s on Prasar Bharati and many of its recommendations are still relevant.  We will look at the Sam Pitroda report and Narayan Murthy report wherever we need to bring in changes and there is no point reinventing the wheel.


By 2022 where do you see Prasar Bharati?


The aspiration is to be a globally respected public broadcaster. We are the largest and youngest democracy and we are the largest public broadcaster in that sense. So clearly we should be the role model for the world. So we can be a world class organisation and have a strong global voce. 


Do we see an era of bold decisions at Prasar Bharati?


Well, let’s hope for the best. I think the bold decision happened last year when we said we will revamp out prime time on DD National. So there is no dearth of bold ideas, I think it’s all about executing them right in the environment we have to operate in. So the boldness will also come in the execution side.

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Sumit Awasthi all set to join ABP News as Consulting Editor this week

Network 18 Deputy Managing Editor Sumit Awasthi had resigned from his post in September

Abhishek Mehrotra 5 hours ago


Network 18 Deputy Managing Editor Sumit Awasthi, who had resigned from his post in September this year, has completed his notice period with the channel. According to information available with exchange4media, Awasthi will join ABP News as the Consulting Editor this week itself. 

ABP News is expected to soon start airing promos of Awasthi’s new show. It is being said that Awasthi will lead the channel's coverage on the days of state election results.  

Awasthi, who started his career with Zee News, has close to 22 years of experience in the filed of journalism and has worked with some of the top media houses in the country. He is one of the well-known news anchors today and has helmed several big prime-time shows on Aaj Tak and Zee News.  

Prior to joining Network 18, Awasthi was Resident Editor at Zee News, where he served a short stint of 11 months. Awasthi has also been associated with Aaj Tak for almost five years where his last-held designation was Deputy Editor. His major forte has been in the realm of political reportage, but he has also extensively covered cricket and international affairs too. 


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We are looking to bring technology partners: Subhash Chandra on ZEEL stake sale

Essel Group plans to divest up to 50% of its stake in ZEEL

exchange4media Staff 1 day ago


Subhash Chandra-led Essel Group is looking to divest up to 50 per cent stake in the Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL). 

“It has been decided to undertake a strategic review of Essel's shareholding in ZEEL with a view to maximize value for the business. The proposed transaction to divest up to 50% of Essel's holding to such a partner, is expected to address the Essel Group's capital allocation priorities and will allow ZEEL shareholders to capture the full value of India's largest entertainment broadcaster with an ever strengthening bouquet,” the company said in a statement.

“Essel has decided to appoint Goldman Sachs Securities (India) Ltd. as their investment banker and US and European based LionTree as an international strategic advisor for this exercise,” it added.

Talking to exchange4media exclusively, Dr Subhash Chandra shared, “This is a stake sale as we are looking to bring technology partners. And as part of that, we may offload a stake. We are the leaders in the South Asia diaspora and audiences and we plan to stay like that. We are making the business even more future ready.”

The statement mentioned that Subhash Chandra and family along with its advisors met in Mumbai over the Diwali weekend to undertake a strategic review of its businesses in view of the changing global media landscape.

The strategic review underscored the importance of technological advancements such as AI, lOT, 3D printing AR, VR and more.

“There is informed recognition that the world is convergent today and the lines across media, telecom, manufacturing and technology are thinner than ever. The semi-conductor business also appeared to be a promising opportunity, but due to its large capital requirement it was ruled out. It was observed that these developments will impact virtually all businesses across sectors and business practices will be driven by technological innovation. The review showed that the family needs to accelerate efforts to stay ahead of fast changing trends,” the statement said.

The review noted that with the current 1.3 billion viewers and close to 50 million digital viewers growing at a fast pace, ZEEL is well placed to benefit from current market trends due to its strong brand and bouquet of domestic and international channels.

“Adding to that strength, ZEES will further enable the company to leverage the benefits of changing video consumption trends, contributing significantly over the coming years. The management of ZEEL under Punit Goenka and Amit Goenka has been well appreciated by all stakeholders and reflected in the performance of the company,” read the statement.

Speaking on where the business stands today, Jawahar Goel said, "Punit and Amit have made the right sustainable investments for the future and the business is growing ahead on all fronts in a focused and disciplined way." 

The statement further mentioned, “On its own, ZEEL would remain a leader in both linear and digital distribution. It has the consumer insights and knowhow to produce and deliver content for the South Asian diaspora globally. The management depth the company has built over last two decades distributing content globally in 12 foreign languages puts the company in a unique position. It has strong revenue streams including advertising and subscription - domestic and international. However, there is recognition that a right global strategic partner will help in transforming ZEEL further, and maximise long term value. It will transform it into a global media-tech player with a unique offering of content to the main stream audiences in 170 plus countries putting it into a king position globally.” 

Essel expects the outcome of the strategic review to be concluded by March/April 2019.

“We hope that this transaction will meet the objectives of the Essel Group as well as the minority shareholders of ZEEL. India remains a priority market for Subhash Chandra and the Essel Group and the family believes that India is at the cusp of significant growth. The family will continue to invest in growth opportunities in India. Regardless of the outcome of this exercise, Essel is committed to create significant long term value in ZEEL and shall keep on contributing in every possible way going forward,” the company said. 


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Zee TV replaces Star Plus as the leader in urban market: BARC Week 44

Zee Anmol continued to lead the overall and rural markets

exchange4media Staff 2 days ago


Zee Anmol continued to lead the overall market with 809 million impressions, followed by Zee TV on the second slot with 790 million impressions and Star Bharat on the third spot with 758 million impressions, according to Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India Week 44 data.


Zee Anmol’s Kumkum Bhagya lead the top five programme list in Week 44 with 13.0 million impressions, followed by Zee TV’s Kundali Bhagya on the second slot with 12.7 million impressions and Colors’ Naagin3 on the third slot with 12.3 million impressions. Zee TV’s Kumkum Bhagya and Zee Anmol’s Mahek stood at the fourth and fifth positions with 10.8 million and 10.5 million impressions, respectively.  


Hindi GEC Urban


Zee TV replaced Star Plus at number one position in the urban market with 472 million impressions. Star Plus fell to the second spot with 450 million impressions. Sony Entertainment Television took the third spot with 421 million impressions. Colors and Star Bharat stood at the fourth and fifth spots with 416 and 365 million impressions, respectively.


Colors’ Naagin3 continued to dominate the list of top five programmes in the urban market with 8.2 million impressions. Zee TV’s Kundali Bhagya bagged the second spot with 7.6 million impressions followed by Kumkum Bhagya on the third spot with 6.3 million impressions. Star Plus’ Kulfi Kumar Bajewala and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai stood at the fourth and fifth positions with 6.3 million and 6.1 million impressions, respectively.


Hindi GEC Rural


Zee Anmol continued to lead the rural market with 656 million impressions, followed by Star Utsav on the second spot with 473 million impressions and Star Bharat on the third with 393 million impressions. Sony Pal and Dangal TV stood on the fourth and fifth positions with 377 million and 339 million impressions, respectively.


Zee Anmol’s Kumkum Bhagya continued to lead the list of top five programmes with 10.8 million impressions followed by Mahek on the same channel at the second slot with 8.6 million impressions. Star Utsav’s Rabba Ve stood at the third spot with 6.3 and Dangal TV’s Ramayan on the fourth spot with 6.1 million impressions. Zee Anmol’s Ek Main Aur EK Tu bagged the fifth spot with 5.8 million impressions.



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Zee Kannada unveils new brand proposition & identity

The new brand image was revealed by Rocking Star Yash at the Zee Kutumba Awards 2018

exchange4media Staff 2 days ago


Zee Kannada has unveiled a new brand identity and launched its HD channel. The unveil and launch took place at a grand ceremony at the Zee Kutumba Awards 2018, where Rocking Star Yash did the honours of launching the refreshed brand image with the entire Zee Kannada family.

Based on insights from extensive consumer research, Zee Kannada understood that the Kannadiga woman has always been nurturing and caring, but her canvas of expression for ages was limited to a homemaker, the channel said in a statement. However, now she is partnering, mentoring and leading the transformation in her home and in the society. The evolution in society has stretched this canvas of possibilities for her. She sees more & more women exploring and experiencing the new. Her only challenge being the pressures of conditioning, people’s opinions and self-doubt that maybe pulls her back from exploring these possibilities to the fullest of her potential.

Building on this consumer sentiment and with the objective of giving the channel’s viewers that innate spark to break their limits in their mind and open doors to possibilities, Zee Kannada has revealed its new brand proposition, 'Bayasid'dha Bāgilu Tegiyōṇa', which translates to ‘Open Doors to Possibilities’, to inspire viewers, especially women, to take initiatives and rise above circumstances to craft their own destiny.

Zee Kannada’s shows have always been about characters who break the limits of their mind. Be it fiction or non-fiction, each and every creation by the channel inspires millions to break their own limits and stands as a platform that open doors to extraordinary possibilities; be it the story of Kamali who didn’t let her origins limit her ambitions, or Geetha not letting her obesity be a limitation when it comes to winning the love of her husband. Each of Zee Kannada’s content, characters & creations unite to inspire women every day, with the energy to un-limit the limits set by conditioning, open the doors of their mind and achieve the extraordinary.

Commenting on the new brand identity, Raghavendra Hunsur, Business Head of Zee Kannada said, “Over the last 12 years, Zee Kannada has earned the dominance of being the entertainment hub in the Kannada television market. With a refreshed brand purpose, we strive to inspire our viewers to break their barriers and look beyond their limits to achieve the unachievable. Synonymous with the Kannadiga pride, Zee Kannada will stimulate women with progressive and onward-looking entertaining content, featuring bold and determined characters that echo the channel’s new brand image. We are bringing new shows and extending our prime time shows on weekends to amplify the viewing experience. Our fiction shows will be taking dramatic turns to bring alive the brand proposition and the journey going forward is going to be very exciting and inspiring.”

He added, “We are also glad to announce on this occasion the launch of Zee Kannada HD, which was much desired by our viewers and we are hoping to enhance their content viewing experience further with the HD Channel.”

Echoing the new brand positioning of Zee Kannada, the channel will undergo a transformation with the key existing fiction and non-fiction shows. Kamali, Brahmagantu, Jodi Hakki, Subbalakshmi Samsara, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Season 15, and Shree Vishnu Dashavatara will witness significant plots that would bring alive the brand promise. A new fiction show launch is scheduled for later this year – Paru, the story of a poor girl falling in love with a rich boy and having to overcome limitations in a home that thrives in a strong class conflict scenario.

As part of this campaign, Zee Kannada will bring to life its refreshed brand promise with a brand film that showcases a housewife who breaks the limits in her mind and learns how to ride a two-wheeler, to get her daughter to her tuition classes on time; how her husband is supportive of this decision of hers and how this new opportunity contributes to the betterment of the family, forms the crux of the film. The lilting background score to the film has been sung by Bombay Jayshree.

Zee Kannada is accompanied by a brand-new logo, and a refreshed look for the channel on-air, as well as off-air. Zee Kannada’s new logo and packaging is based on the theme of radiance that transforms, bursting with inspiring energy, enthusiasm and warmth.

The campaign breaks with an extensive multimedia plan, unfolding across television, trade, print, radio, outdoor, mobile, cable, digital and on-ground events, for over 8 weeks, covering the length and breadth of Karnataka – all 30 districts, including 8 major towns, ensuring a top-of-mind recall in the minds of the audience.


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Star India publishes rate card as per TRAI Tariff Order

The network is also planning to launch four channels by December 31, 2018

exchange4media News Service 3 days ago

star india

After the Supreme Court dismissed Star India's appeal challenging the tariff order of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) paving way for implementation of the tariff order passed in 2017, the network has published its Rate Card as per Tariff Order and Interconnect Regulations 2017.

The network has also announced the MRP of soon to be launched channels by December 31, 2018 which includes two sports regional channel Star Sports 1 Telugu and Star Sports 1 Kannada along with two Hindi movie channels Star Gold Thrills and Star Gold Thrills HD.

Star is offering 28 bouquets with four different variations to cater to the diverse consumer segments based on their consumption:

- i) Base- A Bouquet that brings to you the best of entertainment, sports and movies channels in your language of choice (“Base Offering”).

ii) Premium- On top of Base Offering, Premium Bouquet includes English language offerings and Channels with a differentiated content proposition that some of our consumers would love to opt for (“Premium Offering”).

iii) HD-Base- Base Offering with superior viewing experience (includes HD channels for the corresponding Base offering wherever available) catering to viewers of High Definition channels.

iv) HD Premium- Premium Offering with superior viewing experience (includes HD channels for the corresponding Premium offering wherever available) catering to viewers of High Definition channels.

Click link to see full list:


Early this year, Star had approached the Apex court questioning TRAI’s jurisdiction to frame tariff order on the grounds that the authority has no jurisdiction on content as that actually comes under Copyright Act and not TRAI Act.

The appeal was filed against the fractured judgement passed by a two-judge Bench of Madras High Court comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar. The bench had given a split verdict. Justice M Sundar had ruled in favour of Star. Commenting on the judgement delivered by Justice M Sundar, the Supreme Court order stated, “I am unable to agree with the conclusion of M. Sundar, J. that the provisions of the impugned Regulation and the impugned Tariff Order are not in conformity with the TRAI Act. In my view the impugned provisions neither touch upon the content of programmes of broadcasters, nor liable to be struck down.”

“However, the clause putting cap of 15% to the discount on the MRP of a bouquet is arbitrary. The said provision is, in my view, not enforceable. In my considered view, the challenge to the impugned Regulation and the impugned Tariff Order fail,” the order read further.

The 2017 Regulations prevented the mixing of pay channels and free to air channels in a single bouquet.  The Regulations restricted placing high definition format and ordinary format of the same channel in the same bouquet.  Another restriction was that a bouquet of pay channels should not contain any pay channel where the Maximum Retail Price is more than Rs.19/.


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ZEEL’s Ashish Sehgal gets new role as Chief Growth Officer

The change of designation comes as a result of dissolution of Zee Unimedia, a vertical that was set up to boost ad sales monetisation by the broadcast network in 2016.

exchange4media News Service 5 days ago


Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) has promoted Ashish Sehgal, the former Chief Operating Officer, ZEE Unimedia,  to the position of Chief Growth Officer. The change of designation comes as a result of dissolution of Zee Unimedia, a vertical that was set up to boost ad sales monetisation by the broadcast network in 2016.

Having served a stint of over a decade at ZEEL, Sehgal was earlier handling the sales function of the network in the capacity of Chief Sales Officer, till 2016, when he was shifted to Zee Unimedia. Prior to that, Sehgal had spent close to six years with Star India as Vice President. He was last heading all India sales for Star Gold in 2006, when he moved to Zee as Branch Head (North).


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Arnab Goswami’s father passes away

Retd. Colonel Manoranjan Goswami breathed his last at a hospital in Mumbai around 12.45 am on Friday.

exchange4media Staff 5 days ago


Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV, has lost his father. Retd. Colonel Manoranjan Goswami breathed his last at a hospital in Mumbai around 12.45 am on Friday.

In a brief message to media, Arnab Goswami said his father had been battling illness for a long time. The mortal remains will be taken to Guwahati, where the last rites will be performed on Saturday.

Retd. Colonel Manoranjan Goswami had been a member of the BJP. He was the party’s Guwahati candidate in the 1998 Lok Sabha elections. He is also well known as a journalist, writer and a nationalist thinker.

Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu has expressed condolences on the demise. In his message, Naidu said Retd. Colonel Manoranjan Goswami’s demise is an irreparable damage to the literature world of Assam.


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BBC launches international anti-disinformation initiative

The Beyond Fake News project will be launched on November 12.

exchange4media Staff 5 days ago


The BBC will be launching Beyond Fake News project on November 12 with the release of findings from original BBC research into how and why disinformation is shared. Around the globe, disinformation has been seen to cause social and political harm, with people having less trust in the news, or in some cases being subjected to violence or death as a result. The BBC’s Beyond Fake News project aims to fight back with a major focus on global media literacy, panel debates in India and Kenya, hackathons exploring tech solutions and a special season of programming across the BBC’s networks in Africa, India, Asia Pacific, Europe, the USA and Central America. 

The research comes after users gave the BBC unprecedented access to their encrypted messaging apps in India, Kenya, and Nigeria. 

The Beyond Fake News media literacy programme has already begun delivering workshops in India and Kenya. It draws on the BBC’s pioneering work to tackle disinformation in the UK, where digital literacy workshops have also been delivered to schools across the country.    

Talking about the project, Jamie Angus, Director of the BBC World Service Group, says, “In 2018, I pledged that the BBC World Service Group would move beyond just talking about the global fake news threat, and take concrete steps to address it. Poor standards of global media literacy, and the ease with which malicious content can spread unchecked on digital platforms mean there’s never been a greater need for trustworthy news providers to take proactive steps. We have put our money where our mouth is and invested in real action on the ground in India and in Africa.” 

“From funding in-depth research into sharing behaviours online, to rolling out media literacy workshops globally, and by pledging to bring BBC Reality Check to some of the world’s most important upcoming elections, this year we’re carving our path as a leading global voice for spotting the problems, and setting out ambitious solutions,” Angus said.

The Beyond Fake News Season

Fake or real, truth or lie, transparent or deliberately misleading - how can you tell the difference? And what can you do about it to help build trust?  These are the problems the BBC explores in the Beyond Fake News season. This season will include Fake Me, a documentary revealing how far young people will go in pursuit of social media perfection, as well as the in-depth story of what happened when WhatsApp turned one Indian village into a lynch mob. There will also be reports on Russia’s disinformation campaign, how Facebook is being exploited in the Philippines to spread false information, and a debate with the world’s big four tech firms on what role they play in stemming the spread of fake news.  The season brings stories from across the world on TV, radio and online drawing on the expertise of the BBC’s international network of journalists. 

Programmes & Documentaries
•    Global: From Delhi, 12th – 15th November 

Matthew Amroliwala takes BBC World News’ Global on the road through India, exploring what happens in a world where fake news goes viral, and trust is the victim. He’ll be talking to tech giants, politicians, school children and Bollywood actors.

•    Beyond Fake News – Tech Giants, 12th & 17th, 18th November

The tech giants Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Google are brought together to discuss the fake news crisis and the roles their platforms play in the problem, and the solution. Matthew Amroliwala hosts.

•    The She Word: Fake Me, 10th November  

From Insta-face to jeeps and bling to full-on faking it, millennials in Africa are living on ‘likes’ as the social media world expands, sometimes going to extreme lengths to clock up the clicks. Using the Instagram look, the content, the followers and the tech to transform her online profile, BBC challenges one Kenyan student, a 21-year-old social media ‘virgin’, to go from private to public, and see if she can fake it - in just five days.

•    BBC Click: Kosovo’s Fake News Factories, 10th November 

Eighteen months ago Kosovo's fake news factories were running at full steam - fuelled by the country's excellent connectivity and its young tech-savvy population with few other job opportunities. Since then, Facebook has been aggressively targeting such operations. We go back to see how successful this crackdown has been and how the fake news game has changed.

•    “Deepfake” video manipulation, 14th November  

When you’re not always seeing what you think you are - Matthew Amroliwala picks up new languages the easy way, but not without a little help from “Deepfake” software programmes that turn fiction into reality, making ‘fake video’. This technology could present opportunity for but also dangers. 

•    Explainer: Why a Fake News story spreads, 12th November  

How does fake news get onto your feed? Zoe Kleinman explores how fake news goes viral, the role of social network algorithms in its spread and how automated bots push false stories to millions. How easily are legitimate publishers tricked into repeating false news, and why are we the public so willing to share stories we see on social media?

Special Reports 
       India/Asia Pacific 
•    An interactive data project mapping the violence fuelled by false rumours in India 

From the BBC India team in Delhi, they have scraped hundreds of newspapers to compile data on violence and lynchings driven by social media and messaging apps in India.

•    What happened when WhatsApp turned one Indian village into a lynch mob, 12th November   

The story of Nilotpal and Abhishek. Mini-documentary on two men lynched after rumours on WhatsApp suggested they were child abductors.

•    The people behind the spread of fake news in India, 12th November 
The BBC’s Vineet Khare meets some of the people behind the Facebook pages and websites accused of spreading fake news across India.

•    Thailand’s victims of fake news “law”, 13th November

Four years after the military coup, Thailand may return to democracy with an election next year. But political activity is still limited and critics are being increasingly threatened with cyber security laws that often use the "fake news" crutch and carry prison sentences. For the BBC's Beyond Fake News season, the South Asia correspondent Jonathan Head meets people who are facing legal threats for speaking out against the military government.

•    Fake news and the Philippines, 12th November

Howard Johnson travels to the remote archipelago of Batanes to understand how supporters of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos have been exploiting Facebook to spread fake news and help his family stage a political comeback.

•    Somalia: Media freedom under attack, 12th November  

Somalia is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist and media outlets are being closed down for publishing information, or what their critics call ‘fake news.’ As part of the Beyond Fake News season, Fergal Keane reports on the fallout.

•    BBC Africa Eye – new investigation, 13th November

BBC Africa Eye will broadcast its latest investigation.

•    Debunking Russia’s ‘information noise’ operations, 12th November

A lab in Tbilisi has been using untested lethal drugs to experiment on Georgian citizens, the Russian Defence Ministry announced last month. But the claims were false - aimed at distracting attention away from Moscow's involvement in the Skripal poisoning and embarrassing revelations about a failed Russian cyber-attack on the global chemical weapons watchdog (OPCW) in the Hague. Steve Rosenberg visits the lab for our Beyond Fake News season, and looks at how Russia uses fake news to spread disinformation.

Middle East
•    How a fake news law is being used to crack down on dissent in Egypt, 14th November

Five months ago, Egyptian actress Amal Fathy logged on to Facebook and posted a video alleging that she had been assaulted by Cairo police officers. Two days later she was in jail, accused of “spreading false news”. Fathy, who was later sentenced to two years in prison, is the latest in a growing list of Egyptian dissidents prosecuted under the government’s new fake news laws. Sally Nabil looks at the effect of the crackdown and how US rhetoric around fake news is being abused as a powerful tool of repression abroad.

•    Mexico lynching report, 12th November

Two innocent men are pulled from a jail house by a mob and burned in the street after WhatsApp rumours warning of child abductors - a report on how fake news can grip a small town where violent crime goes unpunished.

Also showing as part of the season:
•    “Operation Infektion”, 11th November 

Operation Infektion, by the New York Times, is an enthralling history of fake news, or what the KGB used to call, “active measures.” With testimony from former Russian spies and US officials, the film deconstructs some of the most successful “fake news” operations of recent times, from the 1980s lie that Aids was created by the CIA, to the so called pizzagate conspiracy during the last Presidential election. This is disinformation warfare laid bare.

•    From Our Own Correspondent, 12th November

From Our Own Correspondent will be bringing its mix of stories, insight and analysis to Delhi for a special edition of the programme presented by Anu Anand. Reporters in the region will reflect on what’s real and what’s not.  

•    BBC World Questions: Delhi, 14th November

BBC World Questions will host a debate in Delhi allowing the public audience the chance to put their questions directly to a panel of politicians and opinion formers. With support from the British Council, the programme visits a different city around the world each month, and provides a public forum for open debate and an opportunity to explore claim and counter claim in front of an audience.  

•    Why Factor:  The Fact Checkers, 12th November

Sandra Kanthal will speak with fact checkers from Turkey, the Philippines and Brazil to find out what motivates them to combat fake news, especially in countries where speaking truth to power comes with considerable risk.   How do they do this difficult job, and why are they so determined to improve the skills all of us can use to call out false claims?  


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Hindi news genre ad rates to grow 25% by General Elections: Avinash Pandey

There is a fundamental shift in election coverage, which is creating lot of buzz across the country, feels Pandey

exchange4media News Service 6 days ago

avinash pandey

As India is preparing to witness state elections followed by General Elections in 2018-19, news channels too are gearing up for the period by offering innovative election coverage.  

Like always, elections set an upward trend in news consumption, which encourages advertisers to spend generously on news channels. In India, TV continues to be a key medium for media advertisers due to its unmatched reach. Television takes the largest share of ad spends at 40 per cent, followed by print at 34 per cent and digital at 15 per cent.

Avinash Pandey, COO, ABP News Network, speaks more about the network's coverage plan and growth in news genre:

Election programming

Desh Ka Mood, the leading election programme of ABP News, released the survey results on November 2, done by CVoter, the timeline of the survey was October 2018 with over 15463 respondents spread Pan India.

“All the channels under the network are doing election coverage, starting from monthly poll on all the news channel of the network. Regional channels broadly do daily election coverage around 5pm and 8pm every day,” informed Pandey.

Taking the highest election recall programme of ABP News- ‘Kaun Banega Mukhyamantri’ forward, the network launched Siyasat Ka Sensex. The one- hour show is hosted by anchor Neha Pant from Monday-Friday between 8pm-9pm. The show will aim at giving viewers opinion poll data of Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan during the upcoming elections.

“We have also started Siyasat Ka Sensex which is a daily poll on these states and big opinion polls on these four states are coming right after Diwali,” said Pandey. 

Election Coverage over the years

Pandey explained, “If you look at the elections, the way it was five years ago, it is becoming more interesting with strong viewpoints and change of political dynamics both in the terms of ideology and ground realities. There is a fundamental shift  which is creating lot of buzz in the people on the ground and thus all news channels, at least the top four, are doing quite well in terms of election coverage.”

Pandey shared that most of the news channels are booked for the entire season till December mid in terms of ad inventory. “As a network, on ABP News, ABP Majha and ABP Asmita, the changing political scenario is creating lot of news. Majha will be dedicated to Maharashtra, our Gujarati news channel, Asmita, is more focused on the Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan elections. The channels has got good round of election programming which has resulted in a decent rate growth and advertising booking of the inventory lasting until December.”

Ad growth during General Election

As the country is moving to the General Elections, Pandey believes that the most of the advertisers today are booking in advance. He said, “The clients want inventory commitment till the end of the General Elections which is around May 15, 2019. Most of the deals are being negotiated.”

Pandey believes that most of the news channel will deliver double digit growth during the poll period with the Hindi news genre expected to grow by 15-25 percent.

Speaking about revising the ad rates for the network, he shared, “We have taken a jump of close to 10 per cent this festive season. Further hike would happen during the counting and polling of state elections, which can be close to 15 percent and third round of hike will happen when the General Elections will be announced and the rates can go upto 20 per cent.”

On an average for a season the rate varies from Rs 3,400 to Rs 10,000 for 10 seconds depending on the time of purchase and the time band brands are buying, which is the same for the top three channels. He said, “However for the state election counting day, ABP News starting 10 sec slot rate is minimum Rs 20,000, which will only go up every single passing day.”

Pandey added, “The regional channels rates will be decided closer to the election day but if somebody wants to take all the three channels of ABP News Network, which include Majha, Asmita and ABP News, they can buy at the rate of Rs 27,000 but if someone wants to buy closer to the counting day the rate will be above Rs 1 lakh for a 10 sec slot.”

Categories spending more

"Media advertisers’ ever growing interest in spending on television ads has made this medium poised for a substantial growth in revenue generation on the back of sectors such as FMCG, automobile, consumer goods, mobile handset and telecom that are trying to leverage the expected increase in news channel viewership. Apart from FMCG, automobile and mobile handset are spending more compared to previous years," said Pandey.

National vs Regional news

“Regional news channels cover minute details of local tehsils or Zila whereas national channels cover broader topics. The interest of a national viewer is very different from that of a regional viewer. Hence, both are doing very well in election coverage. Like in West Bengal, ABP Ananda's viewer base was double of all the channels put together in terms of overall eyeball.”

Plans to launch new channels

Pandey informed, “We have plans to launch new channels but we have to see the market environment in order to go ahead with that. Maybe in the next financial year we will be able to announce it. Currently it's too early to comment on it."









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MIB grants licences for Nireekshana TV & Khalsa Channel

Khalsa Channel is owned by Nexgen Telefilms and Nireekshana TV is owned by Shopping Zone India TV

exchange4media News Service 6 days ago


The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has awarded TV channel licences for Khalsa Channel owned by Nexgen Telefilms and Nireekshana TV owned by Shopping Zone India TV. The licences were given in October.

Nireekshana TV is going to be a South language channel as MIB permitted the license in Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, and scheduled Indian languages. Khalsa Channel is permitted in Hindi and scheduled Indian languages.

Just a month before in September, Zee Media Corporation Ltd (ZMCL), Vedic Broadcasting and Disney Broadcasting India were awarded TV channel licences from the MIB. ZMCL received four licences in the names of 1 Chennai, 1 Mumbai, 1 Kolkata and 1 Delhi; whereas Baba Ramdev-owned Vedic Broadcasting got three licences --Aastha Tamil, Aastha Telugu and Aastha Kannada. Disney India received licence for one channel, UTV HD.

So far, the ministry has granted permission to 1,118 private satellite TV channels in India, out of which 252 permissions were later cancelled. Thus, the total number of private satellite TV channels having valid permission in India today stands at 866-- 383 is news and 483 is non-news segment.


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