Times Now to explore value-added, DTH opportunities

MUMBAI: Times Now, the news channel that started beaming on 31 January has just one agenda: try redefining the concept of news. Target audience: an urbanite.

Pointing out that the new channel is looking at leadership position in the news space, Times Global Broadcasting CEO Sunil Lulla says, “Our target audience is urbanites. People like you and me. There is a lot of information available to them, but they need someone to act as a sieve and tell them the big story of the day. And, that’s what we will do.”

Reuters Media vice-president, media strategy and development, Charles G Stocks, concurs with Lulla when he observes, “We are excited and thrilled the way Times Now gets to talk to the audience. We see Times Now as our voice reaching out to the urban audience in India.”

The channel has been constructed in a way to give snappy news in the morning that will integrate into business (news), which is about stocks, policies, politics, leading to lifestyle before moving into more serious discussions or perspective on an issue.

The programming of Times Now, which is a service of the Times Group and Reuters, across the week, has 14 distinct formats with a mix of views, current affairs, business news, politics, urban trends, entertainment and sports. On weekends, the channel offers comprehensive, well-integrated, distinctive and highly stylized programmes.

Some of the varied fare on offer include Snapshots, which is about the country, Reuters World Report, The Newshour that focuses on the big story, Upfront with the big debate and Sports Unplugged.

“We do not believe it is information (that is being given to the viewers), but an experience. That’s why the tag line is `feel the news’. A viewer can actually feel the experience of the news as is gathered and from where it is gathered,” Lulla explains.

As Times Now moves ahead, it would look at promoting specific services and adding some more interactivity to the normal routine.

“We can even make the service unique, for example, by providing clips of news to consumers as previews. Those are some of the things that we will take into consideration with Reliance mobile and build it up further if there is a value proposition to the consumer.”

The company recently teamed up with Reliance IndiaMobile to make available the channel’s services to the latter’s consumers, making it the first TV station to be available to phone subscribers before going on air in a traditional way.

Will Times Global Broadcasting Ltd, a joint venture between the Times Group and Reuters, look at other markets and also DTH platforms?

Refusing to make any forward looking statements, Lulla says, “We want to concentrate in rolling out our services, building it, establishing it to the point of leadership and then communicating as to what we wish to do next.”

However, as a concession, he adds, “We are not here for the short term. We are not here to do only one service, but will certainly look at other services. I think there are many opportunities, which need to be examined and built up as we undertake some consumer innovation.”

Lulla feels that it is too early to hop on to any (new) platform as “options have to be weighed.” He adds: “We have had preliminary discussions, but need a better understanding as to how DTH players intend to operate in India and the value proposition that they can offer. We will examine all the options.”

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