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Journeys with the caterpillar: Travelling through the islands of Flores
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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Suggestions for news channels

The already crowded TV news scene in India has again seen a lot of action recently. And in the last month channels like Janmat, CNN-IBN, TimesNow have entered the fray with big plans. Of course, the story remains the same, yesterday all the channels were showing “Tendulkar’s fightback” throughout the day with myriad experts saying how other experts were “fools to write him off”. As news channels crop up every now and then, they are bogged by smaller viewerships. So what does a channel do to attract viewers- many things have been tried- flurry of sting operations, everyday unearthing of seemingly huge scandals, attractive newsreaders, news satire, star newscast. The problem is that reasonably big scandals don’t happen everyday (although TimesNow supposedly unearthed a scandal a day in its first week). Attractive newsreaders can’t provide what actresses can provide (also Rajdeep Sardesai is far from Anderson Cooper). And Sekhar Suman is willing to appear on all channels. And star news presenters have spread themselves across several news channels in this boom time for recruitment. So what’s the way out? Here is my list of suggestions for the news channels:

  1. Create Frequent Watcher Programs: Like the Frequent Flyer Programs, let viewers opt for a loyalty card with a card number, telecast random numbers at random times, and ask viewers to dial the call center and register their loyalty card number and the telecast number within 5 minutes of the telecast; each such try giving the viewer loyalty points which can be encashed against other goods/ services.
  2. Let Big B present the news: Learn from what all the consumer brands have done in India. And Big B as always will be willing. Get him to read the prime time news.
  3. Stop being balanced: Look how NPR radio still rules in USA and how FOX TV is growing. Stop being politically correct- bias yourself and be vocal. Political incorrectness rules.
  4. Follow latest trends: For e.g. high pitched nasal male voices are the fad today (See how Himesh Reshammiya is everywhere); get more male news presenters with a high pitched nasal voice and say news like Ashiq Banaya…
  5. Create your own scandals: If you can’t tap genuine scandals, let your CEO/ CFO/ star news caster make his own scandal. E.g. CEO seen abusing his maid (later to be proven false).
  6. Be the Ramanand Sagar of news: Tell us what’s happening in the heavens – be imaginative. No one knows what’s happening there, so you will be safe to telecast any sensational news from the Gods above.
  7. Close your channel: If you are sensible, ignore my suggestions above. Just close your channel and we shall all live happily ever after.

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