Television

India TV getting serious about news?

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MUMBAI: Frequent allegations of sensationalist journalism notwithstanding, India TV has managed to stay at the top of its game, what with veterans like Rajat Sharma associated with the Hindi news channel.

And now when the channel is in the middle of a refresh to let people know it has become serious about the news business, what better than ‘Brand Sharma’ to lend credibility to the exercise.

As India TV MD and CEO Ritu Dhawan puts it: “Till recently, audiences were more interested in non-political and ‘popular' content, so we were catering to that. Now with elections and various other news events, the flavour of hard news is back, so we have refreshed our programming completely. Today, the number of news stories on India TV is more than that on any other news channel. With Rajat Sharma leading the pack and Q W Naqvi at the helm of affairs, our viewers can be assured of the most accurate and responsible news reporting, which will further cement our leadership position in the Hindi news genre.”

In fact, the channel’s reliance on Sharma’s popularity emanates from a position of knowledge wherein it actually commissioned research to find out how best it could highlight its repositioning. “One thing that came out very clearly is that ‘Brand Rajat Sharma’ riding on the credibility it brings in, will have a towering effect on ‘Brand India TV’. It further suggested that people may like to see that connect personified both in terms of communication and programming. And so, not only is the editor-in-chief back on prime time news with his daily analysis show, Aaj Ki Baat Rajat Sharma ke saath, he is also the face of the brand campaign,” reveals Dhawan.

Indeed, as part of the revamp, India TV has embarked on an ambitious, six-week-long marketing campaign which leverages Sharma’s popularity with the audience. The first leg of the campaign will run for 21 days across Hindi speaking markets like Mumbai, Delhi, Agra, Lucknow, Allahabad and Gorakhpur. Life-size images of Sharma will adorn hoardings and billboards across these cities as well as digital ports at arrival and departure terminals in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata.

The banners focus on Sharma’s pensive expression along with the words, ‘You, me and India TV – let’s change the face of the nation’ and have been designed by Saints & Warriors, one of the three creative agencies that were short-listed for the job.

“Three agencies made it to the final short-list for the job, basis what they had presented in response to the brief given. Eventually, Saints & Warriors was chosen for the assignment, basis further discussions with them. Their credentials, clarity of thought, and extended execution sampling helped us clearly decide in their favour,” informs Dhawan.

Working on ad placement on news websites by geographically targeting them to suit audiences is Agency Ecosystem by Amar Ujala, which has a target to reach 35 million impressions through websites like Dainik Bhaskar and Amar Ujala. “We have tried to keep a close leash on expenditures. The first leg of 21 days of the campaign is to the tune of Rs 5.5 crore,” reveals Dhawan.

It is learnt that the revamp is not only to tone down sensational news but also because of the increase in the number of news channels which has led to severe fragmentation of viewership. While India TV was launched at a time when its competitors could be counted on one’s fingers, it now has several competing channels swimming in the same pond. “With so many new and small channels taking up a large percentage of the market, it has become a highly competitive space so the brand refresh was done to mainly maintain our viewership,” a source from India TV tells this website.

Whatever the reasons for the refresh, it’s just two days since the campaign has kicked off and people are getting used to the posters of Sharma in his signature pose with folded hands. What remains to be seen however is to what extent Sharma will help change people’s hitherto perception of India TV.

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