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Television and online medium need different approach for revenue making

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NOIDA: The news television space is burdened with cash crunch. And addressing this core issue were the news industry giants at the 7th News Television Summit organised by indiantelevision.com. The Summit which began with a session on ‘Content monetisation through conventional and digital platforms of news channel’ was moderated by Provocateur Advisory principal Paritosh Joshi and attended by NDTV Group CEO Vikram Chandra, TV Today Network CEO Ashish Bagga, IBN18 Network CEO Avinash Kaul, Doordarshan ADG news Mayank Agarwal and Focus News Network group CEO Neeraj Sanan.

Joshi began the session by asking Chandra how viewership data has changed since NDTV raised its voice against the alleged faulty ratings three years ago. Chandra said that they weren’t getting correct ratings and when they talked about it to others they were told to either swim with the tide or do something different which would get the TRPs. Soon after, they were joined by other broadcasters as well.

Joshi then asked Bagga the secret behind Aaj Tak’s dominance in the genre for the last 10 years. Bagga highlighted that it was not easy to sustain its position given the tough environment. “There was reluctance from various quarters so it was necessary to push that credibility,” he said. He added that the network had grown 25 per cent since last year and while others were growing at just two to five per cent.

Talking about the ad rates, Bagga said that the price for a slot on news channels, unlike the GECs is pitiable. However, TV Today has put its business on a sustainable model of 20 per cent y-o-y growth. “This has been done by quality, resource, building perception and getting the required numbers,” he said.

Doordarshan, on being asked about its transformation, said that it had done a good revamp to maintain norms and standards. “People may feel that we put out the news stories a little later than the others, but that’s not the case. We are alert,” said Agrawal.

He however agreed that a lot is still left to be done apart from the new programmes and the new look it has given to its anchors. “We have also set up new teams in order to cover news better and are also focusing on our online medium,” informed Agrawal.  

Joshi also highlighted the fact that there is little differentiation in content between the news channels. Disagreeing with the observation, Kaul said that though it could be true, the approach of each channel for a story is different. “You can cater the news to different age groups and segment it differently,” he opined.

Kaul is optimistic about the new rating system that will be brought out by BARC India. “This will bring in change to the type of content being produced,” he said.

Joshi also brought out the common criticism that the news industry has to deal with. “Various quarters have said that while the news broadcasters crib about the bad business, the genre still sees new players getting into it every now and then. Is it the political money that is going into it?” questioned Joshi.

 Sanan at this point said that the reason for this was the fact that people see a lot of potential in news because of its ever growing consumption. “If all news channels give same content then that means there is a need for someone to come and stand out. If people are willing to pay and if you can package your content well then there is no reason why one cannot get into it,” he said.

While digital is a growing platform, Joshi asked whether the algorithm that it follows is trustworthy with regards to journalism. Chandra highlighted the fact that even today the brand of an anchor is important. “When people come to the online medium, they want to come to trustworthy sources rather than a layman giving information,” he opined.

Kaul said that with BARC India bringing in meters in the rural areas, the genre will have to strengthen its coverage in those areas as well. “With 4G and broadband making in-roads, we will be in a better state,” he said.

Chandra stated that it was not right to replicate the TV business model for online and that digital was growing at a CAGR of 40 per cent.

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