Jagran Group looks to launch news and current affairs channel by Dec 2004

By , agencyfaqs! | In | June 18, 2004
The media house, which publishes Hindi daily Dainik Jagran, has serious plans of getting into broadcasting with a 24-hour, Hindi news and current affairs channel

For the Dainik Jagran Group, who are publishers of the Hindi daily of the same name, it is not only print, but also television that has a significant role to play in its business plans this year.

The group is looking to launch a 24-hour, free-to-air, Hindi news and current affairs channel by December 2004, and according to Siddharth Gupta, director, Dainik Jagran, the foray is a natural extension of the group's business interests.

"Leaving aside radio and TV, we have a presence in print, outdoor and the online medium," he says. "TV is a logical business extension for us, and more importantly, we are keen on plugging the exodus of small-time advertisers to Hindi news channels."

According to industry estimates, the advertising revenue that accrues to Hindi news channels is roughly in the region of Rs 400 crore. Of this, leader Aaj Tak corners about Rs 170-180 crore, ZEE News about Rs 70-80 crore, NDTV India about Rs 60 crore, STAR News (Rs 50 crore), DD News (Rs 40 crore) and Sahara Samay Rashtriya (lowest at Rs 15-20 crore).

Gupta maintains that advertising budgets in the Hindi belt are increasingly skewed towards TV, and the group is keen on arresting this trend. "If we have a TV news channel, what an advertiser can get is a good media option," he says.

At a time, when the Hindi news genre has six national-level players, Gupta is hopeful that the group's news venture will stand out of the clutter by virtue of superior content, credibility and knowledge of the region (the Hindi heartland, that is) acquired over a period of 63 years of running the newspaper business.

"The daily Dainik Jagran is now 63 years old, and the expertise we have in news-gathering in the region is bound to come in handy," the director says.

The company is in the final stages of a massive research that it initiated in North India five months ago, and this study, claims Gupta, should help the group chart out its forthcoming programming strategy.

It is also putting together an editorial and production team for the channel, which will consist of around 150-200 members. The marketing team, explains Gupta, will be put in place a little while later, and the ad campaign promoting the channel will break out in print and outdoor by October this year.

Investment in the venture is "significant", Gupta says, while politely declining to put a figure to it. Marketing and distribution will be important elements in the overall strategy, and Gupta doesn't rule out the possibility of targeting non-news viewer segments such as women and children through the channel. This, however, will be restricted to a few shows, and programming on the whole will essentially target the primary audience of males, 25 years and above.

"We are late entrants into the category," he says. "But the genre is still evolving, and the future basically revolves around innovative programming rather than merely airing news bulletins." © 2004 agencyfaqs!

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