afaqs!

Can the news genre support more channels?

By , agencyfaqs! | In | January 21, 2004
With SAB looking to launch its news channel by April 2004, and TV18 and Rajat Sharma's Independent News Service waiting in the wings, the question is: Is there space for more?


Last week, Sri Adhikari Brothers (SAB), promoters of the humour channel SAB TV, announced that the group plans to launch a current affairs and news channel by April this year. With this one more channel would be added to the existing list of national news channels in the Hindi language space, which includes ZEE News, STAR News, Aaj Tak, Sahara Samay National, DD News and NDTV India.

There are some more waiting in the wings. TV18 and the Rajat Sharma-promoted Independent News Service are toying with the idea of launching 24-hour news services in Hindi. Then there is Sahara, which plans to foray into the language space with a host of news channels. With so many players planning to flex their muscles in news, the question is: Is there any room for growth in the news genre? In other words, can the genre fragment even further?

"Whatever fragmentation had to happen, has happened," explains Kunal Jamuar, business director, Initiative. "With more news channels coming up, the slight difference that one sees in the shares among Hindi news channels today could disappear."

Consider this. For the two-week period of December 28, 2003, to January 10, 2004, Aaj Tak led the base population of C&S four plus, Hindi speaking markets, with a channel share of 1.81, followed by NDTV India at 0.85, STAR News at 0.80, DD News and ZEE News tied at 0.71 and Sahara Samay National at 0.44.

From the point of view of cumulative reach, the difference is far more pronounced in the case of Aaj Tak and NDTV India, while the other four do not show marked differences in reach for the same period and target audience. The figures are as follows: Aaj Tak: 54.48 per cent, NDTV India: 43.89 per cent, DD News: 38.80 per cent, STAR News: 38.65 per cent, ZEE News: 36.60 per cent and Sahara Samay National: 32.53 per cent.

With the difference in viewership figures not too sharp and clutter levels increasing, the all-important factor of visibility, especially, in the case of newer entrants, can be achieved with some amount of specialisation. "That is what the promoters of the SAB news channel are doing," points a Mumbai-based media analyst. "The group had a current affairs band on the mainline channel SAB TV, which will now move to the news channel with greater thrust and energy."

Quite rightly, the programming for the news channel hinges on currents affairs content with news headline breaks every half hour. "Talk shows, business, health, lifestyle and society-related programmes apart from reality shows will form a major part of the content," according to a prepared statement from the company.

To appeal to a wider base of news viewers, the channel, otherwise programmed in Hindi, plans to have a two-hour block in English. "The extent to which viewership will fragment with the entry of SAB's news channel is directly proportional to its distribution agenda," maintains the Mumbai-based analyst. "Visibility, in the end, is dependent on whether the channel is available on a viewer's time band," he adds. © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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