This is definitely a positive movement, a positive step, said Krishnarao Buddha, Senior Category Head, Parle Products, reacting to the news of the upcoming 24x7 Hindi news channel ‘Good News Today’ from the India Today Group.
Buddha was one of the top voices who raised concerns against growing toxicity on news television last year.
Talking about the impact of BestMediaInfo.com’s initiative against toxicity, Buddha said there has been a slight mellow-down since then.
Last year, BestMediaInfo.com had done a series of stories, highlighting how brands did not want to advertise on news channels showing too much toxicity and hatred. The series triggered a wider debate in the industry and as a result, several news channels have balanced their content.
Buddha said too much toxicity in news was having a negative impact on people. He said even negative news can be shown in a way that viewers can absorb the gravity of the situation.
You were among the first set of marketers who raised voice against the growing toxicity on news channels. Have you seen any difference in news content since?
Frankly speaking, I have really not been following the news channels like I used to. But I remember when the news channels had gone overboard and there was too much toxicity. there is a slight mellow-down now.
How did the toxicity on news channels impact the atmosphere of the country?
With such toxicity, people tend to become strongly opinionated. It does impact them in a big way because somewhere there is already so much negativity around due to the pandemic and people are really scared. And news channels typically have the tendency to bring in breaking news on the negative side. More the toxicity, the more it will have a bearing or a negative impact on people at large. It is definitely going to have a negative effect on people overall.
It is never about positive or negative news. Even negative news can be moderated and presented in a manner that viewers can absorb the gravity of the situation. I somehow feel that news channels should be able to give completely unbiased and informative journalism rather than spreading toxicity.
Some defend and justify themselves by saying there is toxic and regressive content all over social media. How would you react?
That is true, I agree. A news channel is an organisation. As an organisation, you can definitely promote a culture that presents news that is absolutely unbiased, informative and given in moderation. As far as social media is concerned, these are individuals who are posting articles typically picked up from TV or such sources. This further adds to the toxicity among the public at large. The organisation is a better place to contain and moderate news that is being circulated.
According to you, what should an ideal new channel be like?
I would lay more emphasis on informative and investigative journalism. There are so many areas to cover as news. These benefit the nation and are more meaningful for people to understand. An ideal news channel should not have more than three bulletins, each of 30 - 60 mins, during morning, afternoon and evening times. One can cover the day’s worth of news, from across the globe within these bulletins itself. Besides, the rest of the segments could be dedicated to impactful investigative journalism, covering relevant and various topics across public affairs.
How does Parle Products select a news channel for advertising?
We do advertise on news channels. We allot Rs 85 on the overall TV universe out of Rs 100 we spend. Within that, news is a smaller pie because a lot of our products are either targeted at women or young children. So there are fewer channels to target these audiences.
We pick up news channels based on geography and brand priorities. Certain brands are Hindi belt-oriented and so we pick up national Hindi channels. Certain brands are elite and premium-oriented, so we go ahead with English news channels. Maybe, in certain markets, if we have a southern inclination, we look at regional channels.
Also, there are the parameters of content and TRPs. That metric helps us decide which channel to pick for which market. At the same time, we are extremely sensitive to what kind of content a channel is running. We don’t want to be present on channels with toxic content. That is as per our brand safety guidelines.
How would you react to a channel with content that is useful for the public, teaches them all the hacks of a better living, and can be classified as a good news channel? Would you bet on it?
These are good initiatives. It is some respite from toxicity. While I definitely want to know good news, investigative journalism still is good news. Any news is good news if it is genuine, informative and it is in the interest of people.
What is the potential of a channel that can offer 24x7 good news content?
There is a potential for such channels for sure. This is definitely a positive movement, a positive step. Whether I will bet on it or not, will depend upon how the channel shapes up. On the face of it, it sounds interesting and positive. Also, it is to be seen how consumers accept it. Any advertiser has to reach its universe.