There has been a lot of discussion around the toxicity in news content and it seems that the news channels have made some changes for good, said Poulomi Roy, Chief Marketing Officer, RSH Global.
Last year, BestMediaInfo.com had done a series of reports, highlighting the increasing toxicity in news content at that time and how advertisers were getting wary of putting their money in such channels.
Talking about BestMediaInfo’s series against toxic news, Roy said that things seem to have changed for good since then and there’s more focus on neutrality and balance in news.
Given the reach of TV, news channels should be much more responsible, Roy said.
“What we need is a cleaner environment and not false interpretation or negativity. I think the performance of news channels depends on how many people are watching it. And just to make people watch it, channels do anything. That is where the line needs to be drawn,” she said.
Advertiser-led BestMediaInfo’s initiative against toxicity spread by news channels has led to the launching of a full-fledged news channel around good news called ‘Good News Today’ by the India Today Group. How satisfied are you as an advertiser with the impact?
There has been a lot of debate and discussion, and I'm sure that does impact to an extent. There will be a certain amount of changes that will come.
BestMediaInfo took up this topic of discussion that itself actually shows that you guys are exposing the current state of mind that both advertisers and viewers are putting together. So as advertisers, do we have a role to play? Yes, we have a role to play, but not because we want to change the media or the third state in a big way.
Advertisers should not have the power to control content. An advertiser’s role comes down to the moral grounds of what you want your brand to stand for. And from that perspective, whether it's a media planner, buyer and marketer, we do that individually. Even the science of media planning says that you cannot just look at the numbers, but also sample the content. If there is a channel that gives me the best numbers, TRPs, with good TG affiliation, it is great from a media planner’s perspective. But the marketer has to layer it up by sampling the content. And if the content is getting a lot of limelight for the wrong reasons, then that's when the brand comes into perspective. That is the limitation to which an advertiser should be allowed to take a call.
What should an ideal news channel be like?
I would like to consider this question from a viewer's point of view, rather than from an advertiser's point of view. A story should have the source of fact and it should be packaged in a manner where we have a relevant objective and the impact on the common person. The objective has to be very clear. Then that becomes a solid piece of news for me as a viewer.
Do you think the toxicity in news content had a larger impact on society?
We are a huge population and there is no shying away from the fact that the literacy rate is poor in our country. Now, in such an environment, it's dangerous to pass information, especially wrong information. At least in print, as a medium, you need to know how to read and write to consume newspaper information. But television or audio-visual is something that is a wonderful mass media vehicle and that itself becomes actually a point of concern. Because, if you do not analyse, and if you do not give the right picture, then you are actually passing on a lot of unnecessary toxic information to a lot of people who are not able to think on their own, but rather just lap up whatever they are seeing. So there is a major responsibility. Mass communication has a very big impact on any society. In our country, as we know, whatever is seen on television is believed.
How would the advertisers react to a channel with content that is useful for the public, teaches them all the hacks for a better living, and can be classified as a good news channel?
We look for channels that have a good reach and have got good affiliations. If there is content that is absolute nonsense in terms of whatever the channel is doing, and my brand ethos does not support it, it is when I backtrack. What we need is a cleaner environment and not false interpretation or negativity. I think news channels’ performance is dependent on how many people are watching it, and just to make people watch it, channels do anything. That is where the line needs to be drawn.