At a time when the news genre on TV is highly polarised and filled with negativity and toxicity—forcing a large section of viewers to stop watching news channels—India Today Group’s upcoming Hindi news channel Good News Today will be full of compelling storytelling and no debates, said Kalli Purie, Vice-Chairperson, India Today Group.
In an exclusive interview with BestMediaInfo.com, Purie answered all the apprehensions and questions raised by industry veterans and top advertisers of the country.
The advertisers we have spoken to so far are doubtful if GNT will have enough good news content 24x7, as repeats or overstretching will kill the purpose. How would you overcome this challenge?
You know in real life, there is more good news than bad news. We’ve got into a chronic bad habit of consuming bad news. Also what choice do consumers have?
It just takes one brave news channel to shift the spectrum. We will have more than enough to fill 24x7. Newsrooms are just not focussed the way, ours is now. Also every piece of news can’t be good; we are not glossing over reality. We will in some situations hold those responsible for bad news accountable. Yes, it’s the job of news channels to hold the powers accountable. Without the superb work of news channels through corona, I believe more people would have died. But I believe it’s also the task of the news channels to highlight solutions and shine the light. Right now, the news landscape is not balanced.
Mediabrands CEO Shashi Sinha pointed out in an interview with BestMediaInfo that nobody knows whether ratings come because of trivialisation and toxicity. Still, the genre started moving in that direction. Similarly, the success of GNT will provide the direction for the future of news television. How would you handle such pressure?
I think the question is how other news channels will handle the pressure to move away from toxicity. There will be no debates on this channel. It will be full of compelling storytelling.
He also mentioned that the name Good News Today would attract the audience that turned away from news because of toxicity. How ready are you to live up to the expectations of the audience?
People need a ray of hope. An injection of optimism. That’s how we came out of this traumatic crisis. Look at the stock market sentiment. We are ready. India is looking to move past and with full speed ahead.
Amul’s RS Sodhi said advertisers can’t spend only on the basis of one type of news; there has to be a mix of good, bad, neutral news sans exaggeration that particularly injects toxicity. How would you address his concerns?
A shift in the perspective is the differentiator of the channel; as a news channel we will report about the current affairs, economics, sports and topical events but the idea is to highlight and bring forth the good from around the ugly. The orientation is towards a solution not the problem. News is not equal to bad news; that’s the equation we are changing.
Another senior marketer suggested there has to be objectivity attached to every news piece going on air in order to be most relatable to the TG. How well are you prepared for this?
Who says a positive perspective cannot be reported objectively? GNT is going to provide a platform to the good and positive stories and aims to prove just that. Also, if you can have channels that have a right or left leaning, why not one with a positive leaning.
How are you dealing with the challenges related to hiring for both on-air and off-air functions as experts believe there would hardly be a few people in the current atmosphere to fit the bill?
I think it always starts with a few good people. Optimism is infectious. Training your mind to think positively is the best way to deal with any situation. You always hope for the best, plan for the worst. Currently, the genre always gears itself to plan for the worst spectrum; we just need to move the needle more towards the hope factor.