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Headlines Today becomes India Today; group to pump 10% of budget in marketing

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NEW DELHI: Emphasising that the launch of the ‘India Today’ news channel was being treated as a fresh channel launch and not a re-branding of Headlines Today, spokespersons from the channel said that it sports a completely new look as compared to any other news channel in the country.

Speaking about the key reason for changing the brand name of the channel, India Today group CEO Ashish Bagga told Indiantelevision.com that research had shown that the brand recall value of India Today was much higher than that of Headlines Today and therefore it was being promoted as a new news channel.

The channel will also be promoted through television commercials, newspaper and web advertisements and outdoor publicity. In addition, the channel will also be eyeing media partnerships with events like the Indian International Film Academy (IIFA) Awards or premieres of important films.

Bagga informed that approximately five to ten per cent of the channel's total budget would be spent on marketing it. 

He considered this the biggest initiative by the India Today Group in the last forty years.

Bagga also said that the channel was not visible on all DTH platforms including Doordarshan’s FreeDish.

With 40 niche magazines in its kitty, the group had already connected with viewers and readers all over the country.

When asked if a research had been conducted before the channel's launch, he said research was conducted on two levels. On a qualitative level, the aim had been to gauge what people were seeing and what they wanted in news channels. Secondly, an Eye-7 test had been conducted whereby special kind of glasses were worn to gauge eye movements and also check if the viewer had any problem in seeing a channel, which carries more than one box of written matter apart from the visuals. 

Talking about the channel's branding and content, India Today Group synergy and creative officer Kalli Purie said that the new channel had a lot more depth.

Purie said that the India Today magazine had set a standard that other print publications were attempting to emulate, and the aim was to bring the same standard to television news reporting. 

The new look of the channel not only has a headline at the top and bottom of the screen, but also on the left of the news presenter, which is in the form of a box making it legible even from a distance. She denied that this would be make the screen look cluttered and said it had been tested amongst viewers who had liked the format.

Speaking on whether there would be any changes in content, Purie said that the Group had around forty print magazines and the experience would be used for formatting shows on niche programmes on automobiles, luxury items, celebs, and so on. 

Unlike most channels, the content presentation on the India Today news channel would not follow a linear pattern but would be multi-layered. 

When queried on the involvement of senior journalists like Rajdeep Sardesai and Karan Thapar, Purie said that they were already established and credible names in the news world, who didn't believe in beating around the bush but in getting the real news out. 

"Their contribution will be immense in formatting various programmes," she added.   

She also confirmed that the show On The Couch with Koel would continue on the channel.

While Bagga refrained to comment on the ad cap matter as it was in court, he opined that the group did not agree with the government on cross-media investments. 

"No single group dominates in media fragmentation," he said. 

At the same time, he said that the group had no intention to enter FM Phase III for more radio channels.

Referring to Music Today, he said that the aim had been to bring out recordings of non-film music. "While all music is now available on digital platforms, we have no intention of entering that sphere," he added.

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