afaqs!

Read on with STAR News and go for a break with visual print ads

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | November 02, 2009
STAR News is introducing a 10-minute morning news bulletin, based on the newspaper format, where the news, and still and audio-visual ads, will run simultaneously

Beginning today, STAR News will offer its audience a quick update of local and national events. Its morning news bulletin, STAR Khabar at 8 am will do this, without any commercial break.

The news channel is experimenting with what it calls 'visual ad print spots', as part of which both the news item and still and audio-visual ads will run simultaneously.

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Speaking to afaqs!, Shazi Zaman, editor, STAR News, says, "STAR Khabar is an innovation where content and advertising blends smoothly without any spillover. The news bulletin has designated places for both news and advertisements. The idea is to further address the ever-increasing and evolving desire of viewers for a quick and friendly news update."

Zaman laments the lack of varied formats in the news industry, as he points out the ubiquitous practice of news broadcasts, where an anchor reads out the news as the headline and ticker run on the screen, coupled with mandatory commercial breaks.

STAR Khabar, on the other hand, will pick up about 10 news items covering latest incidents, local news, crime, politics, sports and entertainment. Dropping the standard practice of a commercial break to air TVCs, the channel will have on-air a still, along with the audio-visual advertisement of a product and the communication message.

Explaining the concept, Neeraj Sanan, marketing head, MCCS, shares, "The new format brings together the experience of a newspaper and the delivery of TV, as it allows for content and ads to be in the same space. In case of TV, people have the liberty of flipping channels; but in a newspaper, they encounter a news piece with an advertisement on the same page. We are bringing in this positivity of the print medium to TV."

The news bulletin begins with the anchor reading out the top 10 news; the creative of the brand advertised appears on the screen simultaneously, along with the communication message, but without audio. The next innovation is that the detailed story on each headline follows with the audio-visual creative.

The principle being followed is first capturing the news at a glance through headlines, as is done while glancing through a newspaper. Subsequently, the detailed story compares to the experience of a reader settling down to read his or her favourite news pieces in full.

Sanan points out that the idea is bound to click with viewers, as ads in between the news will not appear jarring -- simply because with still creatives splashed in-between the headlines, the viewer is already prepared for what he is going to encounter.

Without sharing the exact advertising rates that STAR News will charge, the channel states that it hopes to command a premium of at least 40 per cent from the innovation, because it feels that the format will allow TV to replicate the kind of creative that newspapers sport -- including a headline and body copy, resulting in the brand being up close with the reader.

To begin with, STAR News has roped in two brands, one of them being ICICI. The channel has not yet decided on the number of advertisement slots in the 10-minute bulletin. The channel believes that viewers should be given some time to warm up to the idea; subsequently, it will take a call on the number of ad spots to be integrated in the new format.

On how the channel will ensure that right kind of news and the brand come together, Sanan admits that the team is grappling with precisely this challenge; as it does not have the luxury of a newspaper, where the news story, the visual and the ad can be assigned fixed places in the page layout. STAR News believes that striking a balance between the two is going to be the biggest learning.

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