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News channel budget goodies pose challenge before planners

06-July-2004
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News channel budget goodies pose challenge before planners

After all the excitements revolving round the comeback of the Congress government, and all the debates relating to the lady with an Italian root, we have yet another reality show that’s shaping up to attract as much attention. Without discrimination, Budget 2004 is the latest mantra for most of the news channels – be it Zee News, Aaj Tak or Star News. Planners however, are still scouting for the right package.

With the target to win the number-game, Zee News offers a show called ‘Budget Ki Class’ which is tailored for the common viewer who doesn’t have much of a background in economics. The programme would explain the relevant jargons like fiscal deficit, sensex, GDP etc to the common man. Meanwhile, Aaj Tak has introduced a segment called ‘Sharmaji Ka Khandaan’ – the show centres round a quintessential middle class Delhi family and represents the anticipations and apprehensions of the people by conducting interviews and interactive sessions with the different members of the family. On NDTV, a special run-up programme, called Budget 24×7 is already on air from June 9. This would be followed by a live coverage of the budget presentation. The channel has in store many other post-budget programmes offering extensive analysis and catching the reactions of the people and the industry.

However, with all such goodies in the kitty, news channels have posed a tough challenge for media planners. Says PRP Nair, Vice President, RK Swamy/BBDO, “Honestly, it’s a catch-22 situation. There is ‘n’ number of news channels on the scene and it’s a difficult task to prioritise the various offerings especially when it’s a repetition of sorts. Involvement levels or time spent viewing for the budget is usually lesser than compared to that during the elections, so it’s not going to be regarded as a premium buy. The common man doesn’t understand most aspects related to the budget, which explains why brands will not go the extra mile.”

Nair adds, “Having said that, it must also be said that while some increase could be noticed in revenues for the news channels, during the budget period, it would not be noteworthy by any account. Content is also going to play much of a say in where the revenue goes, the crucial aspect is to gauge the discriminator among the channels.”

Prasanth Kumar, Media Director, MAXUS, believes, “It’s going to be the budget versus all other hot property within the same time frame. And I am not really sure if planners are going to leave all else and zero in on the budget. For one, the involvement levels are relatively lower and people are not as enamoured by the budget as they are by the elections. News channels may benefit to a small extent, but the returns would not be as visible. Content, packaging, analysis and post analysis will be the determining factor as to which news channel gains the most.”

Sameer Khanna, Business Director, OMS, asserts that it’s only a handful of people who scrutinise the budget up close. He adds, “Budget 2004 doesn’t quite have as many decibels as the General Elections, involvement levels will be considerably lower. Again, it all depends on the kind of brand that you are talking about. If you are an upmarket brand that seeks to reach out to the business class, it makes sense to post ads on an English news channel. While determining the buys, we would be gauging who’s the anchor on which show and the kind of credibility that he brings to the debate and analysis. That’s the only discriminator between the various offerings, and that’s the only factor that can tell which way the revenues would turn.”

The table has been set. And, the feast is soon to start. Yet, planners are in two minds, and are still scrutinising for the best buys.

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