No news is bad news for Nimbus

Two half-hour slots on DD National is what Nimbus Communications has been offered in lieu of the programming it used to provide for the moribund DD News. It will hardly make up for the six and half hour programming that Nimbus had been enjoying on the national broadcaster's 24-hour news channel.

Although the news and current affairs programmes to air from 26 January might attract better viewership than the ones on sickly DD News, due to be given a quiet burial on Republic Day, the timing could not have been worse.

Insiders point out that hardly anyone would watch a news programme between 10:30 am and 11 am. The other slot in the afternoon is also a time when most viewers are hooked onto soaps and is unlikely to bring in audiences.

Though Nimbus has laid off 40 of its 70 odd technical and editorial staff working on the news capsules, it has reportedly said that those leaving could be re-inducted when fresh assignments come in. That, sources say, is unlikely with DD planning to create two hours of software in house. The rest (approximately four hours) is commissioned out to independent producers on a quota basis. With names like Rajat Sharma and Romesh Sharma and UTV also in the fray, Nimbus is unlikely to land any more assignments from DD in the short term. As the company's focus is more on entertainment and airtime marketing, however, Nimbus is unlikely to lobby for more news programmes with the pubcaster and hence not many of the outgoing staff are likely to be called back.

Most of the 40 asked to leave reportedly did not have much of an advance notice before Friday, when the production house handed them the pink slips. Some of these had joined the team as recently as two months ago, sources say.

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