IBN Lokmat to launch by March; TG 'aspirational' audience

NEW DELHI: IBN Lokmat, the Marathi news channel from the GBN stable, is all set to launch latest by March.

The channel is currently in its trial run and will launch as soon as the new facility in Vikhroli is ready and once the ongoing 360-degree training by US experts concludes, Nikhil Wagle, editorial director tells

Wagle insists that the network created by IBN is unprecedented in regional journalism and includes 13 bureaux spread across the state, with 100 stringers, allowing "us to reach the last man in the village".

Wagle says he visited hundreds of journalism schools in the state and 2,000 students were interviewed; hence the editorial staff is representative of the entire state, not Mumbai-centric.

Lokmat is the biggest newspaper chain with multiple editions in the state, and the new company, IBN Lokmat News Pvt Ltd, owns the channel, but is a part of the GBN group, and hence, committed to the same standards of journalism as CNN IBN, Wagle explains.

Asked whether infotainment or even crude videos (of the kind seen on Hindi news channels) will also find a place on the channel, Wagle denies it, arguing that historically, the Maharashtrian news consumer has been more tuned to social values than those from the Hindi heartland.

"That sort of news won't be accepted here," he says, adding that in any case, the company is committed to hard news that is of relevance to people.

Wagle reveals that the core content for IBN Lokmat would be driven by the aspirational aspects of Maharashtra's economy today.

Sixty-four per cent of Maharashtra lives in urban areas, the highest in the country after Tamil Nadu, he says.

"Every small town is trying to become a metro and larger towns are aspiring to higher status and this is the real issue today, so this aspirational aspect will be widely covered, along with traditional hard core news."

With malls and cineplexes coming up, businesses expanding and the youth lifestyle changing rapidly, urbanisation and its challenges would also be a core issue on the channel.

Asked whether they would also include programming content like astrology, which has recently surfaced in IBN 7, GBN's Hindi news channel, Wagle says, "There is no place for astrology in a news channel and the Marathi viewer is not interested. When they watch a news channel, they want deep-rooted investigative news."

There will be rural coverage as well, but Wagle says it will not just be sensational news of farmer suicides.

"There are different angles to showing something, and we are not chasing TRPs, so when we cover farmer suicides, we shall show all the angles that exist, not just the sensational aspect," he said.

Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in-chief of CNN IBN, says that the top layer of editors are the cream of Marathi journalism and will be totally driven by hard core journalism, saying, "Nikhil Wagle is no less a hard core journalist than any in the country, and so are most of the others, who all have a minimum of 15 years of journalism behind them."

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