Television

NDTV India pulls the curtain down on crime shows

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NEW DELHI: NDTV India, the Hindi news channel from the Prannoy Roy-promoted NDTV Ltd stable, has decided to say goodbye to crime shows. Instead, it will focus more on investigative and topical features.

So, out go daily shows like Dial 100 and weekly FIR. In their place come more socially relevant programmes like exploring the DNA of increasing number of suicides by farmers in the Vidharbha region of India. Even in Metro FIR, the crime segment would be dropped.

“Our strength has always been serious and topical features and we are going to exploit it further. Crime shows and sensational stuff is not our cup of tea,” NDTV India managing editor Dibang told journalists here today, explaining the future roadmap for the channel.

According to Dibang, a print medium journalist-turned-TV newsperson, feedback has shown that crime shows might give ratings, but do have a tendency to pander to sensationalism and be intrusive in the personal lives of people.

“We want to set ourselves apart from tabloid (news) channels and this is not something that we have realized suddenly or over night,” he explained.

However, this realization doesn’t take away the fact that NDTV India, which at one time was seen as the contender for the top spot in the Hindi news space, has slipped to No. 3 position, while Aaj Tak continues to rule as the market leader. Star News has been occupying the No. 2 slot for some time now.

Quizzed on this, Dibang, who came to NDTV from Aaj Tak, acknowledges the recent turn of events, but stands by the theory that NDTV India would rather dish out serious and thought-provoking shows than ones that may bring in the ratings in the short term at the cost of assaulting viewers’ sensibilities.

“We have always been a pro-active channel and given the regulatory environment and policies being proposed by the government, we’d prefer to do away with crime shows and unnecessary sensationalism. NDTV India is not going to be TRP-linked, but become an example for self-regulation,” he counter punched.

As an alibi, he also dished out some figures like declining viewership of crime shows, most of which are aired at 11 p.m. on TV news channels. “Few years back, the novelty factor of crime shows brought in audiences, more than prime time in the evening. But recent data shows viewership of such shows have fallen as the Hindi-speaking audience is slowly maturing,” Dibang said.

Does that mean NDTV India would not cover crime events at all. “We’d cover crime as done by newspapers, depending on an event’s merit,” Dibang explained, adding issues that affect the common man would be more aggressively taken up.

It needs to be seen whether discerning viewers in the HSM flock to NDTV India or not.

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