India’s star news channels & Baba

P.N. Vasanti , Director of New Delhi-based multidisciplinary research organization Centre for Media Studies (CMS) writes in 

A classic example would be the numerous shows featuring Nirmal Baba (alias Nirmaljit Singh Narula) on almost 35 channels, including 15 news channels. Paid slots showing a large number of devotees getting advice and solutions to problems have made this former businessman into a baba reportedly worth crores (a few reports claim an annual turnover of more than Rs.200 crore!)….

….They may find a place on our numerous channels, especially the dozen-odd spirituality channels such as Aastha TV, Sanskar TV, MH1 Shraddha, Sadhna TV, Dharm TV, Paras TV and Sanatan TV. They may even help hold up ratings on a general entertainment channel.

….My issues are twofold. One, these are paid slots and not news or current affairs programmes, so what are they doing on a news channel? Many channels do not even inform the viewer that it’s a paid programme and not produced by their channel. Second, where is the moral and ethical responsibility of any news media in promoting such blind faith and superstition?

…In September 2011, the News Broadcasters Association (NBA) issued an advisory to its 45 member channels “to voluntarily improve the broadcasting standards by desisting from airing such reports (on matters propagating, promoting and advocating superstition, occultism and blind belief)”

….And yet, we see a large number of NBA members such as Star News, Aaj Tak Tez, IBN7, India TV continue to promote and regularly show paid programmes featuring Nirmal Baba, even today.

She also heads the CMS Academy of Communication and Convergence Studies. Read the full column

TV Today scoops a dozen at award do as it is praised for its ‘path-breaking work’

The night of the prestigious National Television Awards, 2012, belonged to the TV Today Network as the group walked away with 12 awards on Wednesday.

The network’s English news channel Headlines Today won seven awards, while the Hindi news channel Aaj Tak got three awards.

Dilli Aaj Tak and Tez, the other Hindi channels of the group, bagged one award each at the glittering awards ceremony that took place at The Lalit hotel, New Delhi. The channel scooped up awards in categories ranging from hard news and investigative journalism to entertainment.

The Headlines Today show, Saas And The City, won the Best Entertainment News Show award for its episode ‘Revisiting Ramayan’, while Denzil O’Connell bagged the Best Entertainment News Anchor award.

The channel also won an award for the Best Use Of Graphics In A Promo.

Aaj Tak won the Best Promo For A Channel award for ‘Badal Gaya India’ and the trophy for Best Current Affairs Programme (Home And International) for Doctoron Ki D-Company.

It also won a special award for the Anna/Lokpal show, which gave an extensive coverage on the Lokpal Bill.

Dilli Aaj Tak won an award for the promos of ‘Aapka Chunnav’ campaign while Tez bagged the trophy for Best Entertainment News Show for its show, Dhoondte Reh Jaoge.

Hindi news channels rake in the moolah on poll counting day

The channels dropped volumes but still rode high on the back of premium rates. Aaj Tak achieved record single-day revenue but had to compromise on TRPs.

Hindi News channels raked in the moolah on the day of counting during the recent Assembly elections in five states. And they did so despite dropping volumes, by hiking rates to achieve record revenues.

Aaj Tak, which has always attracted maximum eyeballs during major developments of national interest, decided to encash its positioning on counting day. The mandate was clear: to earn record ad revenue on a single day. It continued with ad breaks even during the peak hours of counting.  It claims that it had dropped inventory volumes by 30-35 per cent inventories compared with its regular inventories, but had done all bookings at premium rates. The channel has claimed to have raked in revenues of Rs 2.5 crores which included fresh ad bookings for counting day worth Rs 2 crore.

But this record-breaking single-day revenue was achieved at a price. For the first time since its launch, Aaj Tak had compromised with its TRPs on a big day which is being termed as a short-term gain by independent media observers. However, it is to be seen if advertisers will stick to the channel in case it continues with the current trend in future too.

BestMediaInfo had reported the viewership trends of Hindi News channels during the Assembly polls wherein Aaj Tak stood at No. 3 in several markets and TGs despite its leadership during the five weeks of the electoral process. (Assembly elections: Star News leads on counting day; Aaj Tak rules across 5 weeks)

The second highest earning on counting day has been claimed by Star News which emerged as the No. 1 channel in most of the markets and TGs in terms of TRPs. Although the channel had sold 50 per cent lower inventory for counting day, it claimed revenues of Rs 1.5 crore for the day on the back of high premium on rates. Star News had break-free live programming during the peak hours of vote counting from 8 AM to 12.30 PM and also during primetime.

In normal situations, ad revenues of Star News remain around 10 per cent less than that of Aaj Tak despite having 20-30 per cent lower market share. However, with the No. 1 position on counting day, the channel is optimistic about increasing its pie in future.

Similarly, India TV, which remained the second most watched channel along with Zee News in several markets and TGs on counting day, despite lagging during the run-up to counting day starting final phase of voting from March 3 to 5, has claimed ad revenues of Rs 1.5 crore for counting day. According to senior officials at the channel, India TV has proved that it leads the genre in serious programming also. The channel had established flagship properties like ‘Aapka Mukhyamantri Kaun’ during the Assembly polls which will continue during future elections.