IBN 7 for look makeover to catch aspirational young viewers

NEW DELHI: IBN 7, the Hindi news channel from the Network 18 group is going for a total overhaul of its look to match the profile and taste of the younger crowd who sometimes do not watch Hindi news on aesthetic grounds.

The new-look channel will start from next week.

Ashutosh, the IBN 7 Managing Editor told "The difference is hard to explain without actually showing what we mean, but let's say the difference would be a man from the small town and a man from Mumbai or Manhattan."

Ashutosh says that the group has been feeling that Hindi news channels take on a rustic, rural face, which puts off many young people who have become aspirational.

He says that with the flush of money due to recent economic boom in the country colouring the outlook of the viewers, there is need to give the face of the channel a completely international look.

Alongside, technology would be key to the viewing experience as many virtual studios will be added for news programming.

"We shall just have one master studio with proper sets, the rest will be all be virtual and we can create any kind of set that the particular news requires," Ashutosh said.

As an example he agreed that it would now be possible to report, say, on a plane hijack creating the virtual set of the plane and the cockpit and showing how the hijack had taken place, instead of just giving audio takes on these details.

Ashutosh said that large chunks of prime time will have the support of these virtual studios, and that too would add to the international viewing experience.

But the key issue is of the look, he stressed, explaining that the news content will be the same but with a changed face. He says that the entire colour scheme, among other visual effects willl be changed to give the international feel.

"Let's say a man has shifted from Raipur to Rochester, and so does his look. The cloth is the same the man is the same but the look is international."

It was a bit difficult to envisage, though, as the various bands that are seen on the screen of IBN 7 today will still be there.

At present there are four bands, one at top and three below, and those would stay.

Asked why BBC or CNN does not have these bands, and that primarily these are the cause for Indian Hindi news channels' on-screen look being badly cluttered, he said that this is because those foreign channels do not have to face the intense competition one sees in India.

"Those bands are constant feed of information useful to the viewers, so that even if the audio is out, one can feed on information, whether regarding the story on news, or other ticker news and so forth," he explained.

His defence is that the tremendous competition to grab eyeballs is what has led Indian channels to go for these techniques, and said: "These will stay, but still, you will realise that what you are seeing today on our channel is completely different from what is coming up."

Ashutosh admitted that the virtual studios have come at a huge price, but this reinventing of the channel was necessary.

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