Advertisers demand good news on TV

Marketers believe that news channels need to reinvent their programming

Mumbai: 2020 was a tough year for industries across the board, including media and entertainment.

Most observers believed that television news would be immune to the killing nature of the novel corona virus. After all anxious TV news viewers were following minute-by-minute updates about Covid2019’s life threatening rampage and the scores of carcases that were piling up in hospital mortuaries or cemeteries and the by banks of the Ganges - in the virus’ wake. However, this quest for covid2019 updates died soon thereafter as depressed and disturbed TV watchers wanted some better tidings. But that was not to be: controversy after controversy made the top news on daily bulletins 24x7. Net result: viewership of news TV went down south, as did advertising.

Freedom of expression is a cherished and valued fundamental right. Yet, certain news media outlets have often wielded it to cast aspersions, and run media trials and ended up portraying the accused as guilty, thus irking TV viewers even more. Then there are the high-decibel studio debates, which often end up with no conclusion except for some attention-grabbing visuals.

Many a commentator, politician, socialite and influencer bemoan the dumbing down and degradation of TV news. As do a section of viewers.  Listen to what eye comfort and eyewear ecomm fim Lenskart, media head, Anupam Tripathi. has to say.

 “Negative programming on news channels is bound to affect a certain set of audience that is niche or more mature to an extent.”

Berger Paints India, general manager – marketing, Sudhir Nair agrees that that the overly dramatised content catalysed viewers to  cut down on TV news during the pandemic, and it was the lack of new content that actually made them switch to digital and social media outlets for the latest. 

So what is the way out? One way out is to present developments in a positive way, talk about the good that is going on in society and government, focus on how life is getting better, not worse, points out Tripathi.

“Unlike the DD days when everyone in the family was glued to a television set for any form of content, the younger lot now has the option to switch to another screen. So if the news channels do not take up the challenge of making their programming more positive and interesting, they might lose this audience. It is important to remember that today the competition is not with other genres, it’s with every other device that is selling news,” adds Tripathi.


Nair goes as far as to say that it’s about time that the TV news sector reinvents its programming and the way it approaches news stories. “it would be great if we could see more positive and inspiring stories,” he adds.

According to most marketers, a news channel must also bear in mind that it too is a brand which has to take care of its goodwill and credibility and provide a safe environment for TV commercials.  In the past there have been examples where advertisers have either individually or collectively announced that they would refrain from advertising on channels that got into unnecessary controversies. Hence the importance of responsible programming.

Hence, says a marketer, that it’s interesting that some news networks have announced that the new offerings from their stable will present news through a positive lens, not just a critical, doubting one.  Droom CMO Mohit Ahuja welcomes this trend, adding that “news media is among the top three advertising mediums because of its high reach and affinity among our target group.”

That should be good news for those who are coming up with channels offering good news.

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