Future belongs to regional news channels: Ravi Prakash

NEW DELHI: The future of television news channels is in going regional. However, the path is not so easy as it is marred with political influence, flawed rating system and pressure on editorial. These were the thoughts of Associated Broadcasting Company Ltd (ABCL) CEO Ravi Prakash.

ABCL had launched a 24-hour news channel (TV9 AP) in Andhra Pradesh in 2004 and was faced with severe skepticism at that time, Prakash said.

“When we launched the channel, many questions were raised about viability. Today, there are 17 news channels in the state, and no one is closing down,” he said.

Prakash was giving his perspective on regional news during the 4th News Television Summit on 17 March in New Delhi.  
  During his keynote, he stressed that even if regional is the future; there is a big problem in terms of politicians wanting to launch their channels.

“The entry of politicians and political money has its consequences. There are other issues also like paid news, but the biggest is political. And it just doesn’t stop there. Problem is that the leaders don the role of editors and control the content,” Prakash rued.

He cited the example of Tamil Nadu where a leading group is affiliated to a political party. Without taking any names, he also said that at least three channels in Andhra Pradesh are owned, directly or indirectly, by politicians.

Prakash said that the rating agency is flawed and it forces the channels to produce and serve mediocre programmes.

“Tam is forcing the channels to air trivial content. The peoplemeters are installed in the lower economic strata and that has to be changed,” he said.

Blaming it on Tam and demanding rationalisation in the ratings process, Prakash candidly said: “I am ashamed to say that we have had to show some content because they get ratings.”

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