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News channel Khoj India seeks to differentiate itself on its ‘SMART’ programming

03-November-2009
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News channel Khoj India seeks to differentiate itself on its ‘SMART’ programming

Launched in April 2009, Khoj India, a 24-hour bilingual (Hindi and English) news channel, is a relatively new player in a highly competitive market. Khoj India has been launched by Signet Communication Pvt Ltd, a 16-year old company established by the husband-wife duo of Naresh and Shashi Mehta.

Though a small player and with not much visibility yet, the Mehta couple is quite upbeat about the way ahead for the channel. Elaborating on the news channel, Shashi Mehta, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Khoj India, told exchange4media, “The channel is seeking to serve an audience in the niche category and is somewhere between news and entertainment. Khoj India is a family channel catering to the elderly, children, women, men and youth. Our vision is very clear – to be a scientific, trustful and informative, with no space for superstitious stuff.”

Quoting TAM figures, Mehta claimed, “Khoj India has starting getting the numbers. As per TAM ratings, from the period June to September 2009, the channel had garnered TRPs that oscillated between 0.2 and 0.5.”

On the channel’s distribution strategy, she candidly admitted, “We know that distribution is a big problem, but we did not realise how much earlier. We don’t have very deep pockets, hence we need to look at higher return on investment. What has been encouraging is the decent performance shown by the channel in the last few months.”

She further said, “We are open to partnerships with venture capitalists. We don’t have any ad revenues coming in as of now, but we are confident of our good product and are content with the gradual, but ‘SMART’ progress.”

When asked what this ‘SMART’ was, Mehta replied, “We follow a ‘SMART’ news strategy that comprises interesting news from the world of – S: Science and technology; M: Medical and health; A: Art and culture; R: Rural and agriculture; T: Trade and industry.”

Other programmes on the channel include ‘Duniya Hai Gole’, an hour-long capsule of the latest world news; ‘Yeh Hai Mera India’; ‘Knowledge Junction’; ‘Business Buzz’; ‘Children’s Corner’; and ‘Khoj Khabar’, among others.

What media planners have to say

Commenting on the ratings shown by Khoj India, Bhavna Jha , GM, TME India, said, “Initially, these numbers look decent for a new channel. But it is the content of the channel that matters a lot. Frivolous items cannot survive in the long run. New channels cannot touch the credibility of the established channels easily. Therefore, they need to stick to their good content. Small and regional channels can compete among themselves. The success mantra for them should be ‘KISS’ – Keep It Simple and Straight.”

According to Pradeep Ramakrishnan, VP, Mudra Connext, “New channels need to focus on two to three specific areas and excel in them. No one can cover all the areas initially. It’s not about TRPs at all. It is all a content game and how you can deliver in that.”

He stressed that in order to survive in this competitive world, newcomers needed to invest and stay.

Chirantan Chandran, Partner, Mindshare, observed, “For smaller players, it is very difficult to get distribution. These channels should target specific regional markets and small pockets. In the current scenario, if somebody doesn’t have a definite revenue model, then he/she will find it hard to survive.”

These are relevant points that both Shashi and Naresh Mehta need to keep in mind while growing their channel. Both have considerable experience, though not all of it in the field of media. While Shashi has been a media professional having previously worked with Indian Express for 10 years and Doordarshan for five years, Naresh is an engineer and a technical and marketing professional. He is also the Chairman of Khoj India.

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