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An initiative such as Good News Today may expand TV news genre, says Mediabrands’ Shashi Sinha

A channel focused around positive content will be able to attract more viewers and will be good for the industry and the society at large, says Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands India

Shashi Sinha

Ever since BestMediaInfo started a discussion around increasing hatred and toxicity in news content, a lot of news channels have undergone course correction and have sobered down, said Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands India.

“The absence of no news rating and no madness or mindless rush to be number one has also led to this subtlety,” he said.

Talking about India Today Group’s plan to launch a new channel called Good News Today, Sinha said, “I’m very happy with the whole initiative and India Today building upon this is a damn good idea. It will be in the interest of the industry and society at large that they get traction. If they do, the other channels will follow suit and improve themselves.”

Sinha said news channels will get back audiences that had stopped watching TV news because of increasing noise and toxicity.

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Asked about the business potential of channels focusing on positive content, he said, “I’m sure India Today Group would be aiming for that premium with this initiative. Advertisers are already more concerned than ever about being present on credible platforms which, in turn, gives their brands more credibility. The right mix of engagement, buying power of consumers and credibility will be the key to success.”

"There's a huge potential for any channel that is a differentiator or a category creator," he said.

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Excerpts:

Do you see any visible change in TV news content after BestMediaInfo started a countrywide discussion around toxic content?

Your initiative was damn good and India Today Group building on it is even more excellent considering a lot of people had switched off news.

If we call it a course correction, is it going to stay for long?

The dilemma today is how long will they continue behaving responsibly? I believe a lot of content has sobered down because news ratings are on hold and there is no madness or fight to be number one. So your initiative started the whole thing but today content also looks subtle because of no news ratings.

Do you mean that ‘no ratings’ is a better situation to be in?

The point I am making is that advertisers are flying in the dark and they don’t know which channel is doing well and which is not. At the same time, they don’t want to end up undermining the category. This is the good side and bad side of the current situation. That is a dilemma that I’m not able to answer.

Do you still fear the bad side of ratings?

In the long run, I hope the madness does not start again when the ratings come back. They all used to claim that ratings come because of all the trivialisation but no one really knows whether ratings come because of that or all started moving in that direction.

Sensing the public mood, India Today Group recently announced a 24x7 Hindi news channel called ‘Good News Today’. What potential do you see in such a media channel as a marketer?

As a consumer, I’m very happy with the whole initiative and India Today building upon this is a damn good idea. They have done a very smart thing by taking this position because there are a lot of people who don’t watch news. When they read the name of the channel, they will start watching it.

It will be in the interest of the industry and society at large that they get traction. If they get traction, the rest of the channels will follow suit and improve themselves.

Informative content across genres be it auto, tech, education, food, personal finance is getting premium from brands for targeted and quality audiences. Does such content on television change the way marketers were seeing news television?

Absolutely. Very soon, segmentation will prevail over the lowest common denominator method. Premium on the basis of segmentation is there even in news. English news already attracts a premium for the quality of audience it offers if you calculate their CPM rate. I’m sure India Today Group would be aiming for that premium with this initiative.

Do you think a channel focused around 24x7 good news has the potential to grow over the years?

It is all about engagement or stickiness and the audience profile. Advertisers are already more concerned than ever about being present on credible platforms which, in turn, gives their brands more credibility. The right mix of engagement, buying power of consumers and credibility will be the key to success.

What else would it take to bring a news channel on a par with a GEC when it comes to ad rates?

As I said, the audience with more spending power helps English news attract a premium. For some segments, their CPM rates surpass GECs too. So, there is potential for anyone who is a differentiator and a category creator.

Also read: Good and credible news content plays a big role in deciding ad spend, says Amul's RS Sodhi

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