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News channel dilemma: Fun only currency for stickiness?














MUMBAI: Reasonable men confronting unreasonable challenges. In the pursuit of more eyeballs - and by extension ad revenues - content of most Hindi news channels are increasingly driven by entertainment, sports and cinema stories.



Agreeing that the face of TV news in India is changing, TV Today Network CEO G Krishnan says, "Hard news co-exists with tabloid coverage. Fun seems to be the only currency for stickiness."


At the session "Is News Entertainment: changing face of television," news broadcasters said that there is an overlap of commerce and journalism among news channels. News channels are heavily dependent on ad revenue as subscription revenue is very low.



The ad revenue size of Hindi news channel is Rs 6 billion while that of English news channel is only Rs 2 billion, NDTV India executive editor Sanjay Ahirwal points out.



Sahara Samay MD Rajeev Bajaj argued that in the last five to six years, there has been a paradigm shift of news content. It is the viewers‘ taste that matters. News content is driven by stories which affect the viewers. Therefore, a story on Khali and Rakhi Sawant is as important.



Said Bajaj, "With increasing aspirations, viewers‘ choice of content is changing."


Sounding a cautionary note, senior journalist Satinder Bindra warned that the trend of news broadcasters increasing the number of entertainment stories on their networks would lead to questions about their credibility. "Once credibility is lost it can never be retrieved," Bindra said.



"Almost all the news channels carry the same story with an ‘exclusive‘ tag. The news consumer feel betrayed. The news channel then lose credibility," Bindra says.

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