Top Story


Home >> Media - TV >> Article

How India TV scooped the Osama tapes story

Font Size   16
How India TV scooped the Osama tapes story

15, 480 seconds. That’s a lot of time really in the world of television news. And that’s the extent of time lead that India TV clocked over rival channels in putting out the Osama bin Laden tapes in the wee hours of Saturday last. Enough reason to put out a special mailer with Osama staring out of the screen. The mailer claimed very simply: “At 2 a.m., India TV viewers started seeing the Osama tapes and our expert analysis. Our nearest competitor woke up 4.5 hours later! We don’t blame them for going over the top over trivial news breaks…”

Recounting how it happened, Rajat Sharma, Chairman, India TV, says, “At the risk of sounding like insomniacs, at 1.30 am our top team was finishing one of our regular planning meetings when we received the alert from Doha. Some tapes had being dropped off at Al Jazeera's Islamabad office. We knew we'll have to break the meeting. When we stepped out, our Al Jazeera desk seemed to be in a state of heightened activity. They were busy reading alerts from the channel's Arabic ticker, the visuals were on their way."

According to India TV senior editors, tape ingests started at 1.50 a.m. and specially recruited Arabic translators began the process of interpretation. The newsroom sought web updates from Al Jazeera. By 2 a.m., the channel’s ticker began sending out first details of the tape to Indian viewers. And at 2.05 a.m. the first news scripts rolled out.

Explained Sharma, “Watching our Al Jazeera monitors, we didn’t lose much time to realize that that tapes were probably genuine. Before long our tickers were up with special alerts, and our team began to ingest the tapes and write out the scripts, and an anchor began his pieces from the newsroom.”

By 4.30 a.m., the “job well done”, the top team at India TV started returning home. All along every Indian news channel was being monitored. Says Sharma, “Our nearest competitor started informing their viewers at 6.30 a.m. Others started a little later. In a business where every second counts, we had been ahead by 15,480 seconds!”

But wasn’t it a pity that not many may have been awake at that late hour to see this event unfolding on the screen? Says Sharma, “It was a journalistic triumph. Even if one viewer saw it, it was worth it. That is what television news is all about.”


Vijay Mansukhani, speaks to exchange4media about the resurgence of Onida, the scope of growth of consumer electronics market in India and the reasons why Indian consumer electronics brands don’t compete on a global scale

Projjol Banerjea opens up about hiring Anne Macdonald and GroupM's Rob Norman, and the brand's new identity

Meera Iyer tells exchange4media that in FY 2016/17, bigbasket clocked a revenue of Rs 1,400 crore. The online supermarket currently stands at 70,000 orders a day, with operations in 25 cities.

CMO, Kashyap Vadapalli on the start-up’s marketing play, why it has decided to stay away from IPL and response to its furniture rental apps

The campaign, featuring brand ambassador Farhan Akhtar, exhorts consumers to showcase their achievements through the walls of their homes.

We list a few important stories that you may have missed in the week gone by

The campaign takes the narrative forward to persuade prospective investors to invest in mutual funds