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Government should allow pharma companies to advertise on TV, says ABP Network's Avinash Pandey

The CEO of ABP Network talks about their rebranding exercise along with a plan to go paid in future. He shares his views on the TRP issue and why pharma companies should be allowed to advertise on TV

Avinash Pandey

Like any other sector, this year has been uncertain for the news broadcasting industry. While viewership grew tremendously during the lockdown, the industry had to deal with lower advertising revenues. There were discussions around brand safety due to toxic content in certain channels. The industry came under the scanner after some channels were accused of tampering with ratings and TRPs. During such a crucial time for the industry as a whole, ABP Network reinvented the identities of its news channels and digital platform.

Avinash Pandey, CEO, ABP Network, talked to about the purpose and vision behind the entire rebranding exercise. “With declaring ourselves limitless, we are opening the avenues of touching the sky as nothing is constraining us to grow. As every brand aims to grow, so do we, therefore in this journey of growth, we realised that we also need to amend our vision and that’s how we decided to break all the boundaries and go limitless,” he says.

Talking about his expectations in terms of ad revenue growth in the coming year, Pandey said the overall environment was improving and advertising would be better next year. He urged the government to allow pharma companies to advertise on TV as it is already an established practice globally. "This will open advertising opportunities for the industry at large," he said.


The channel's new promo says "Tod ke Haddon ko". In popular opinion, news channels ne ‘saari haddein tod di hai’. Do you think this sort of a communication works when people want news channels to focus on the responsibility part more?

Limits are in every direction; there’s a limit in doing good things as well. ‘Hadd’ is an Urdu word that broadly defines what is stopping you. We will try to show correct and factual content. Working in a media organisation, you must be aware of the financial constraints present there. Doing business is not easy, because most of it is dependent on advertising. Hence, what we are exploring is how we can be limitless. We are trying to reach out to more and more people and provide them with factual news. We are trying to be more hyper-local through the web and through our pages.

What is this rebranding aimed at — retaining your audience or attracting new viewers?

The entire rebranding activity was done with the aim of keeping up with the changing dynamics of the world. There has been a drastic change in the consumption pattern of the viewers as more and more of them are getting inclined towards high-quality standards. The fresh logo will give the existing viewers the confidence that their brand is robust during the ongoing pandemic and for the new viewers, they will experience the finest of journalism, which is rare in these times.

Was any impact study done beforehand on how would it help all your news brands?

The new identity is a breath of freshness for the brand and viewers. Our logo with the free arrow is symbolic to a guide for our viewers. The refreshed logo is emblematic of unbiased and ethical standards of journalism, which we at ABP Network have always maintained since the inception of the brand, and our stakeholders are very well aware of it.

We are not just rebranding ourselves in terms of the look, we are also bringing out new content portfolios by heavily investing in digital – in podcasts, video content, digital media, among others, and we believe this change can help by bringing more investment towards ABP Network. By declaring ourselves limitless, we are opening the avenues of touching the sky as nothing is constraining us to grow. As every brand aims to grow, so do we, therefore in this journey of growth, we realised that we need to also amend our vision and that’s how we decided to break all the boundaries and go limitless.

You said differentiation is required as almost all news channels appear to be similar in look and presentation. What about the viewers who relate ABP News with the existing look and feel?

It’s through the loyalty and encouragement of our viewers that we decided to change the brand identity. Therefore, I believe our viewers will feel proud of us that we have brought this newness of being limitless. For us, breaking free through a new logo became essential in highlighting our change in vision by imparting a more active look.

How much will the rebranding affect the editorial standpoint?

In order to fulfil our objectives, we want to stand equal with the changing times, and therefore we will be investing heavily in digital and other portfolios. We want to break the typical mainstream content line and enter the sphere of delivering unique and unbiased information to help make our viewers informed and responsible global citizens, every single day.

As far as values are concerned, we stand tall and firm on our foundational pillars of ethics, truth, and dedication. Our mantra has always been to evolve and move beyond the limits. We will continue to do so and strive to exceed the expectations of the current generation.

Considering the current ad sentiment, how do you expect 2021 to be from the revenue standpoint?

I believe 2021 will be a big year for advertising. Patterns from the past for advertising revenue are all in the past. The new normal will bring new revenue opportunities for many industries in the country. I believe this will increase advertising opportunities for us as well.

Especially if you look at the healthcare sector, we expect many companies to come into the consumer space. If this is done, we hope the government of India allows rules for pharmaceutical companies to advertise on television channels, which is globally done outside India. This will open vast advertising opportunities for not only us but the entire industry at large.

You had earlier said you will soon be a paid channel. Is that still on the card?

We are currently in the second stage of our brand reinvigoration process where all of the logos of our channels and ABP Live are getting a refreshed look. We have many more plans for the future, including shifting to a paid channel. We will let you know when this comes to fruition.

Recently, several brands said they would pull out advertising from TV if news channels continue to broadcast toxic content. What steps has ABP Network taken to restore faith in its advertisers?

I believe that every business goes through ups and downs in the industry. I don’t believe that one episode on TRP can malign the entire industry. There is excellent journalism happening in the country, one or two episodes cannot malign the industry.

We at ABP Network have always tried to deliver unbiased and balanced content to keep our viewers informed global citizens.

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