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How I&B Ministry’s advisory may correct the abrupt change in pecking order of news television

The advisory might change the pecking order of Hindi news genre as channels have been forced to dial down on the sensational coverage of Russia-Ukraine war. The channels gaining top slots on viewership charts because of animated and hyperbolic war reporting, which BARC India has not been able to explain satisfactorily yet, may lose their positions in the coming weeks

The one of its kind strong-worded advisory sent by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting last week to private news channels has started showing the desired results on screen. The ministry on Saturday asked news channels to stop using provocative headlines, hyperbole, unauthentic and fabricated information in their news reporting and debates.

The unruly news channels creating war hysteria and giving communal colours for inflating their TRPs have apparently toned down. 

A senior industry observer, and an avid TV news viewer, told that the Ministry’s action was much needed to end the corrupt practice. “While this advisory will largely benefit all the TV news viewers, it will also help reinstate the image of television news,” the expert said.

When asked if this would also have any impact on the viewership and pecking order of the news channel, the expert said that trivialising of content is another form of corrupt practice to secure an unfair advantage. “Once this is controlled, the channels who were resorting to fabricated news will lose their viewership and the erstwhile order would be established.” 

Giving the advertisers’ perspective, a seasoned marketer at a large FMCG said that they are aware of such tricks played by the news genre channels. “We keep a close watch on the content of any platform to ensure that our brand is present in a brand-safe environment. Which advertiser would like to see its brand besides fabricated and fake news?” the marketer said.

“Earlier, fake news was associated with digital and social media platforms. With television news channels taking that unfortunate route, we will have to rework our budget allocation. I am not sure how others cannot say no to being present on a certain platform, but we have our own sweet way. By no means such tactics help a channel command better rate,” the marketer added.

A Director -Marketing of a global automobile company, that stopped advertising on certain channels on the basis of trivialisation, said that he was impressed with the government for blocking misinformation on the internet. “Recently, the ministry has become active and started blocking fake content on YouTube. It has so far acted upon individual channels running under the garb of news channels. I will not be surprised if a TV news brand is banned for spreading misinformation because both the cases are the same.”

“We know the consumer behaviour well and always mix gut feel with data for any media buying. When data behaviour is abnormal, we use our gut feel to sort out the dilemma. We are aware and every media platform should realise that before resorting to any such trick,” the Marketing Director added.

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