Following a lull that surrounded the news channels after the high voltage drama encompassing the General Elections, the news channels are ready with a platter of new programming around one of the most significant events of the year - the Budget. With the Congress led UPA winning the General Elections in a clean sweep, all eyes are now on the first major policy announcement from the new government, the Union Budget 2009, which unfolds on July 6.
While continuing to air regular news programming, business news channels will extensively report on the budget and its impact across sectors, industries and audiences. Even general news channels are gearing up for the big event. The mantra is to focus on translating the budget coverage to the simplest form possible for its audience.
Talking to afaqs!, Neel Chowdhury, vice-president, marketing, CNBC TV18 and CNBC Awaaz, says, "People have very high expectations from this budget and we'll focus on the Budget in a fresh manner, breaking it down to a simpler format for our viewers. This time, our focus will not be on policy alone but we will try to find out where India can go from here. It will have the ground reality, views and expectations of the country. We will have various formats, such as debates, candid discussions, analysis and behind the scenes shows."
Some of the properties planned by CNBC TV18 are - India Economy Debates with Karan Thapar, 21st Century - 100 days and beyond; Imagining The Indian Economy; Past FM's, Present Budget which will have the likes of Jaswant Singh and Yashwant Sinha sizing up this year's Budget; Young Turks In The Government; Budget Behind The Scenes and Budget Gets Real. Apart from these, the channel will also feature segments and vignettes such as Industry Wishlist, If I Were FM, What The World Thinks, Budget Trivia, Tax Minute, Budget Barometer Poll and Economic Survey Special.
With Awaaz being a consumer channel, there will be a significant amount of news dedicated to the Budget. One-third of the news will be dedicated to budget related happenings. Every day, the channel will air two half-an-hour shows and about 20-30 per cent of the top stories will be related to the budget.
Currently, about 70-80 per cent of the channel's programming focuses on the Budget, but on the D-day it, will have 100 per cent focus on Budget related news. Keeping its target audience in mind, which is a mix of investors and opinion makers, the programming mix on NDTV Profit will focus on what kind of stocks will get affected due to the Budget and at the same time, how will companies react to the announcement.
He further adds, "Ours is a mix of stock, macro and micro issues. We plan to think from the viewers' perspective and what they want to know from this year's Budget." The lineup of shows on the channel include Deloitte presents Budget Watch, India's Budget, Tax Round table, We the SME's, Budget for Bankers, The Lobby, Sector Watch, Budget for Investors, Ghar Ghar Ka Budget and Your Taxes. Also, there will be two minute vignettes - CEO Wish List, Desh Ki Dhadkan and Tax in 2 Minutes, highlighting the expectations of various stakeholders.
With business channels being niche products, their competency is largely dependent on the interpretation and analytical skills of the presenters and experts. Thukral believes that in order to stand out from rest of the channels in the genre, one needs to go more in-depth so that issues are understood better and the concerns can be put forward in a more detailed fashion.
He adds that the channel is putting together a 1,000 strong student interface on the Budget day. "To give it the stature, we have initiated an alliance with NCPA, Mumbai. In the backdrop of the finance minister's speech, the youth shall interact with those who have built their own enterprises and redefined businesses across sectors," he informs.
Zee Business has Beti, Bahu aur Budget; Budget Yatra; Meri Job and Mera Budget in association with Monster.com in the pipeline.
It is not only the business news channels that are eyeing this event, the general interest news channels have equally exhaustive lists of programmes.
"NewsX budget programming will concentrate on issues that affect citizens directly and not just the big corporates. We will also give the viewer a perspective on our country's spends as compared to different countries," says Mukerjea of NewsX.
On how the Budget coverage on NewsX will be different from the other players, he says, "We have on board an ex-business editor who will give in depth insights on the Budget and economics."
The IBN18 Network (CNN-IBN, IBN7 and IBN-Lokmat) has lined up a programming schedule for covering the Union Budget. The focus of the network will be on what the Budget means for the common man, the business leaders and India.
Radhakrishnan Nair, executive editor, CNN IBN says, "This budget is expected to be a window of opportunity during the economic slowdown. It will be a blueprint for what this government can do for the country.
Therefore, the name, 'Budget of Hope'."
Axe the Tax, which is in its third year, is an important property for the channel and focuses on tax laws that need to be changed or modified. According to Nair, the show has been instrumental in bringing a "small but significant" change in the tax law for senior citizens. Budget of Hope, another big property of the channel, will look at the five things the government should do in this budget - address affordable housing, lower interest rates, job market, and uplifting of urban and rural poor.
The channel will also air Face The Budget, Devil's Advocate, Pre-Budget Show and Budget Day. CNN-IBN plans take the Budget beyond corporates, "to the middle class urban India and present an opportunity for all.
About the Budget coverage by the CNN-IBN Network, Rajdeep Sardesai, editor-in-chief, IBN18 Network, says, "CNN-IBN's special budget programming has been designed in a way to benefit all strata of the society, from the common man to industry giants. CNN-IBN, with its finest experts, will simplify and decode the Budget's effect and impact for our viewers."
IBN-Lokmat has Budget Chaupal, Humcha Apeksha, Factoids (trivia on the Railway Budget and Union Budget) and Mamta Express in its kitty.
For NDTV India, it's the aam aadmi route. The channel intends to focus on the common man and the housewife, those who are not very conversant with budget lingo. Sameer Kapoor, chief executive officer, NDTV India, says, "We will focus on two main points demystifying the budget and the terminology used. What are the key elements of the budget? How do these affect a common man? Our basic focus will be on translating each element to its simplest form."
The other channel from the NDTV stable, NDTV 24X7, has shows such as Make My Day, where Prannoy Roy will talk on how the FM can make your day; The Revival Budget will take the views from the industry, stock market experts, economists and the 'aam aadmi' on the Budget; Your Taxes will be a debate show; The Game Changers will have members of the government discussing about the upcoming event; In Dear Pranab Babu, audiences will tell the FM what they want to see most in the Budget; Your Money will take a view of the future and everyone's money; Make a Wish and From CM to FM.