CNN rides high on appeal among Indian elite

NEW DELHI: With a "healthy growth" of 22 per cent in advertising revenue over 2005 in India, Turner International's CNN news channel is leading the way in the international news channel category in the country, argues Monica Tata, vice president, advertising sales and networks, India & South Asia, for Turner International India.

Speaking to in an exclusive interaction, she claimed also that CNN International has a larger audience than all other international news and business channels put together, and that, in fact, "CNN leads a rival channel (BBC) by 82 per cent in terms of retaining weekly viewers" at the Pan Asia level.

In addition to the existing categories of advertisers from India, Indian companies like those from sectors like consulting, corporate, white goods, IT, industrial goods, power and automobiles are on CNN International to reach international audiences, Tata added.

"Some examples are, HCL, the Bihar government, Accenture, Aditya Birla Group, Daikin, Suzlon, etc. And two good examples of the 360 degree approach we take for our clients include CNN International's "Eye On India" series, which has been held over the past two years in association with Oberoi Hotels & Resorts; and the development of six advertorials, produced by CNN, for the Ministry of Tourism to promote India across the world," Tata held.

Citing a report from Synovate Business Consulting, the leading market research and intelligence agency in Asia Pacific, Tata said: "Almost half (47 per cent) of weekly CNN viewers watch no other news or business channel, while the year-on-year audience growth is greater than any other news or business channel."

Tata, though, sought to stress that the focus of its viewership is distinct. "CNN International focuses on the International Indian, or the global citizen as we call them, encompassing frequent travellers, high level business decision makers, and not the mass news market."

"Online, remains the leading regional website, visited by 69 per cent more PAX respondents across a month than the next largest broadcaster or publisher's website, she said, adding that her channel is 219 per cent ahead of the third closest channel in the international news category in terms or retaining weekly viewers.

Tata says that the popularity of CNN is what brings them more advertisers and added that CNN has tie-ups with 1,000 TV affiliates around the world "who are very much a part of the wider CNN family".

"Clients and agencies have shown an increasing interest in news channels, and for CNN, the response continues to be positive. With increase in news viewing habits in India, new product categories have started advertising on news channels, such as insurance companies, tourism boards, etc." averred Tata, who quit the Star group to join CNN as vice president in 2004.

According to Tata, in the recent Global Capital Markets Survey (GCMS) 2006, conducted by Objective Research, CNN International reconfirmed its position as the leading news brand for the global financial community, across all regions (Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America).

"At the same time, the latest Pan Asia Cross Media survey (PAX research Q3, 05 - Q2, 06) underscores the findings by demonstrating that CNN continues to most successfully reach the wider business elite of financial decision makers regardless of rank/seniority across the Asia Pacific region. CNN has ranked first in the news and business genre every year since 1997, according to the latest set of PAX figures," Tata observed.

(PAX represents a universe of 14.2 million adults aged 25-64 within 11 Asia Pacific markets: - Australia (Sydney + Melbourne), Bangkok, Hong Kong, India (Delhi + Mumbai + Bangalore), Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Manila, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo.)

She claimed it is proven that during events of global implications, viewers from around the world, including India, tune in to CNN International, to keep themselves abreast of the latest developments.

The Indian affluent group continues to grow, travel regionally and globally, do more business around the region while Indian companies are increasingly expanding globally, she explained.

"With these developments, we are seeing a growing interest in international news and business. CNN's "Your World Today" being in a prime time slot is an indication of this growth. We are the leading news provider around the world and will continue to grow our position in India," Tata says. Tata explained that India has always been a key market for CNN and especially more so now because of the country's geo-political situation.

"India cannot be ignored by anyone, and is critical from the news point of view. What India does and the developments in this region have repercussions on the international scene, and so it's natural for us to continue with our focus on India and the region," Tata stated "We have been covering all major Indian news with international relevance like the Indian elections, the Maharashtra rain catastrophe, the tsunami disaster, important Indian personalities, the Mumbai blasts, IT outsourcing, most recently the, Ardh Kumbh Mela, revival of the Indian railways, the surrogacy report, and many more areas. Besides, the "Eye on India" series focuses on topics like nuclear energy, Bollywood, outsourcing and many more," she asserted.

Asked what she thinks is CNN's edge in India, Tata replied: "CNN International is targeted at the global citizen, who is interested in knowing what is happening around the world. Our content reflects this, and we bring viewers coverage of global events with a regional perspective.

"On the news front, CNN's New Delhi bureau chief, Phil Turner along with CNN's senior International correspondent, Satinder Bindra and CNN's New Delhi based video correspondent, Seth Doane, focus on covering domestic news and developments and have filed numerous stories from India.

"In addition, CNN's feature programmes such as Richard Quest's 'QUEST', Art of Life, Global Office, Global Challenges and Talk Asia have done stories out of India, and we will continue to do many more," she explained "Actually, we find that the growth of news channels tends to increase the amount of viewers who watch news and business programming, thus creating a bigger audience pool. Through CNN-IBN and CNN International we have a very firm footing in the Indian marketplace. We are constantly exploring business options here and across the region. So wait n watch and stay tuned to CNN!" she quipped.

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