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Primary aim of news channels is to be an informer and not a transformer: Zee’s Subhash Chandra

The Essel Group Chairman spoke on ‘News Neutrality’ at IAA Conversations with journalist-analyst-author Shankkar Aiyer, organised in Mumbai yesterday

Aanchal Kohli | Mumbai | October 14, 2015


IAA Conversations, held under the aegis of the India Chapter of International Advertising Association (IAA), saw Dr Subhash Chandra, Chairman, Essel Group and Zee, in conversation with journalist-analyst-author Shankkar Aiyer. The event was held in Mumbai yesterday and was attended by who’s who of the ad-world. Speaking on ‘News Neutrality’, Chandra said, “We, as news broadcasters, are in the business of giving information and not directing someone on what is right and what is wrong. According to me, Neutrality means showing or sharing information the way it is and not refining or transforming it as per the needs and demands. The primary aim of news channels is to be an informer and not a transformer.” Aiyer pointed out that news was a business today and it completely ran on viability. He then asked Chandra how his channel survived between compulsion and competition, to which the Essel Group Chairman replied that he believed that it was important to strike a balance between the two. For instance, if a complicated news was being aired, then the news channel should always take the view points of both the parties. Aiyer added here, “The explicit imperative of news is to inform and demands 360-degree objectivity. Opinions may choose to reform, but the right carries the implicit obligation to be reasoned and reasonable.” Chandra felt that the current security clearance system didn’t make it clear as to who could or could not own a news channel. While discussing the relation between media owners and advertisers, Chandra mentioned that once an advertiser had stopped advertising on the news channel after a negative news story was aired about them. He also informed that Zee was all set to launch an English news channel in March or April next year. He said that talks were currently underway with various advertisers to get them on board as channel partners and added, “We are going to offer them good pricing and good rates.” The insightful conversation ranged from the basic concept of neutrality; the solution to compulsion of revenue vis-a-vis competition; regulation of news gathering and vagueness of media ownership in India. Chandra also mentioned a new technological engine being put into place at Zee, which will track stories right from the filing stage, so that there is control over biases. The International Advertising Association is the world’s only globally-focused integrated advertising trade association with membership representing advertising agencies and the media. The IAA comprises corporate members, organisational members, educational affiliates, as well as 56 Chapters with individual members and young professionals from 76 countries, including the top 10 economies in the world. lAA is over 75 years old and is headquartered in New York.

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