Television

Ad breaks took a break on the news channels

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In the aftermath of Tuesday's horrific multiple terrorist attacks on America's institution's of military and financial might, literally all eyes have been and are on the unfolding story. The US has been hit and the world is shaken to the core. Richard Sambrook, director of BBC News on the US disaster, was probably speaking for the media community at large when he said: "I doubt many of us have ever been confronted with a story of such magnitude."

On a more banal level, there is a huge opportunity here for the various news channels due to the phenomenal increase in eyeballs that an event like this engenders.

So have the ad sales managers been working overtime to bung in as many ads as possible? Quite the opposite actually. On the day of the attack (Tuesday) all the major news networks beaming in India opted for total and blanket news coverage without any ad breaks.

While CNN went the whole hog (understandable it being an American news channel) and has been operating a single news service feed to all its audiences around the world and is still broadcasting without any ad breaks, the other channels began doing so from yesterday. India comes under CNN's South Asia service.

Business news channel CNBC India's CEO Haresh Chawla pointed out that during such times as these the only issue with any news channel was to make sure that as comprehensive coverage as is possible is delivered to audiences. Queried about whether advertisers would want to position their products to cash in on the increased viewership he said the channels would not agree to it in the first place and secondly, even advertisers would be reluctant fearing a negative backlash.

Star India's executive V-P ad sales, Raj Nayak, ruled out any attempt to cash in as it were on increased traffic. "As a news channel, we will not capitalise on tragedies," Nayak says. Nayak added that the logs for ad breaks were sent (to Hong Kong) 48 hours in advance, so even if there was pressure to increase ad time it could not be done at such short notice.

Nayak added that all programming on the Star World channel was switched to Fox News once the gravity of what had happened in New York and elsewhere in America became clear.

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