HT Media needs to rethink ‘No TV Day’

MUMBAI: Hindustan Times is back with its ‘NO TV Day’ initiative. The campaign in its third year, now invites Mumbaikars (who, according to them, are the only ones owning a TV set) to switch off their TVs and celebrate quality time with family and friends through a wide range of activities specially put together by HT Mumbai (Does that mean Mumbaikars also do not know how to organize activities for friends and family and need an HT Media to do it for them?).


The Facebook page of the campaign has many ads put together to promote the “Apna TV Band Karo Campaign."  Bollywood actor Imran Khan is seen saying he enjoys cooking on ‘NO TV Day’ - not surprising considering the number of films he has been doing (or he rather did). 


Another activity suggested is the ‘Get Fitter Mini Marathon’ at Carter Road, Bandra. Located in the western suburbs of Mumbai, it seems to insinuate that Mumbai can get fitter only at Bandra man (Read: the common Bandra lingo). 


The ‘Head to Adlabs Imagica and Get Amazed’ has a number of postings on the page because maybe Essel World is now passé and not so amazing anymore. 


Jokes apart, the campaign is being planned at a time when IPL mania has gripped the country. Why is the HT Media management trying to spike the viewership of Sony Entertainment's most expensive and revenue generating product in the city of cricket lovers? 


Is it a case of sour grapes with HT Media? Publication houses like India Today, DNA and the Times of India have their own channels but HT doesn’t. Maybe not now! But it surprisingly did so once in the late nineties. The Hindustan Times had started a Hindi entertainment channel, Home TV in collaboration with Pearson group of London which soon shut shop. And now with its ‘switch off your TV’ HT is behaving like a kid throwing tantrums.


What's also concerning is that HT Media's No TV Day coincides with No Tobacco Day this time. Are they not really very different products? TV definitely is not equal to tobacco.

The dynamic audio visual element of the TV medium allows its viewers to consume content as it comes alive on a screen immediately and live. It informs, it entertains, it engages, it educates, it connects and it is an integral part of our lives.

As compared to this, newspapers take an entire day to publish information that has probably expired and has been dust binned. May be some of their analyses are pertinent and different, but in the era of paid content that's something you have to really seek out. The world over newspapers are being given a decent or indecent burial. And TV and the digital medium are continuing to grow and thrive. In India, however, that's not the case and newspapers are showing that they have a lot of legs. 


Yes, the intent behind the HT Media initiative - get families and each one of us out together doing things they and we normally don't - is laudible.  But why hit out at the medium of TV? Why call it ‘No TV Day’ when calling it “HT Media's Family Day out” would do just as well.  Then do we really need a special day to spend time with our families?  And will HT Media decide what we should do with ours?

The campaign also suggests that one can help a great deal in protecting the environment by turning off the TV for a day. HT has also organised ‘Nature Trails’ on ‘NO TV Day’ in Goregaon, in the western part of Mumbai. Can it ensure that the participants will not leave behind a trail of plastic bags, bottles and other wastes as they trudge along?  


At we believe it makes more sense to watch TV in order to protect the environment. After all no trees are cut to make newsprint when you watch TV.


HT Media managers would do well to take their communications seriously. Imagine what could happen if the channels were to take the anti-TV messaging to heart and were to organise a No Newspaper Day nationally? It could lead to a loss of crores for the whole newspaper industry.  Imagine what would happen if TV channels were to go online alone to promote their shows and for their TV guides? Again a loss of crores would hit the industry. Imagine if TV manufacturers were to cancel advertising in newspapers for a day? Again the impact would run into crores. 


It's possible that HT Media's campaign may also be costing the TV industry some viewership (though many doubt that). Hypothetically let’s say it is, that means the ‘No TV day’ would be impacting TV channels’ revenues. The question is why are TV channels taking all this lying down? When probably they are among the bigger spenders in the newspaper's pages.


The appeal from all of us at to HT Media is that its managers should avoid using the term ‘No TV Day’ and coin something more positive and family oriented instead. It will be just as fun for its readers in Mumbai. 


(We at the group live and breathe audiovisual content - both on TV and online. But we also love newspapers. We believe they are relevant. At least for a few years. We also believe that HT Media's ‘No TV Day’ campaign is a case of misdirected and wrongful communication, though it has been organised in good faith and with a good intent to bring families together.)

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