I’m not chasing ratings here: Tim Sebastian

13 Jul,2012

By Shruti Pushkarna


Tim Sebastian

Award-winning British television journalist known for his ‘hard talk’, Tim Sebastian will soon by seen on Indian television screens. Business news channel, BloombergUTV has joined hands with Sobo Films to produce a debate series called ‘The Outsider’, which will go on air in August. The show will be hosted by Mr Sebastian, the  founder and host of the world-famous ‘The Doha Debates’ and the first host of BBC’s flagship international interview programme, Hardtalk.


Mr Sebastian is hopeful of bringing quality television to Indian TV screens, just as he has done in the past with the Doha Debates and Hardtalk in other parts of the world. He said that a similar rigorous routine will be followed in the making of this show in terms of research as he followed on Hardtalk. Mr Sebastian said: “These are very well-researched programmes. I’m known to do my homework. A very similar research team to the one I had on Hardtalk, providing me with a lot of details, will be working on this show.”


[youtube width=”400″ height=”225″]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm5FHz1WD6k[/youtube]

When asked about the choice of India for a debate show at this point of time, Mr Sebastian said: “I’ll be putting India on a global stage. I’ve always visited countries when they are in crisis. Countries don’t incite interest when they are doing well. This is a perfect time to come to India. Why now because the view in the outside world is that India is at a crossing point. Maybe it’s no longer shining in the way it was five or ten years ago. Maybe the national mood has sunk a little bit in India . People are obsessed with their problems; they feel a promise has not yet been fulfilled. My aim is to have a fair debate, a debate that should shed light on a particular issue of concern to India. My job is to make sure these debates contain both the heat of your passion and the light to illuminate extraordinary things to a curious world. India matters more than ever. There’s no escaping that.”


A 13-part series, The Outsider will feature debates on some of the major social, political and economic issues faced by India, including subjects like education,Kashmir, relationship between business and corruption, dynastic politics and more.


Each debate will have speakers arguing for and against the motion. Speakers will include politicians, business people and activists. The debate will be conducted in the presence of a live audience of around 200 people. The audience will vote for or against the motion at the beginning and at the end of the discussion and the votes will be compared at the end of the show. The motion will then be thrown open in the viral world for people from across the globe to post their vote to determine the majority sentiment for the motion.


Sriram Kilambi

Announcing the launch of The Outsider in New Delhi on July 12, Sriram Kilambi, President, BloombergUTV said: “To understand the business in India, you have to understand the business of India. Business is larger than just the stock market and we want to broad base what our channel can be. We want to be about business and we want to stay in business, but we believe a couple of shows like this help us broad base, so that our shows on policy and on judiciary can actually get people to see them.”


Mr Kilambi said that BloombergUTV was excited about Tim Sebastian hosting the series. “The Outsider is the first ever television show about India to be showcased on a global platform and we are proud to be the channel to carry it. We expect the entire nation, and Indians living across the globe, to sit up, watch and participate in the series, which will send a strong signal to the bureaucracy and corporate India about issues that need to be tackled to ensure that the country stays on-course with its growth map,” he added.


A lot of Indian television programming, as we know, is governed by how well the show scores on TRPs. When asked whether he will be tailoring the content of his show to generate enough ratings, Mr Sebastian said: “No, I am not chasing ratings here. I am chasing interesting television, whether it’s mass market or niche television, it doesn’t really matter to me. I am chasing what I think is good quality television, discussing issues that matter to people. I’ve worked for 30 years in public broadcasting system, and we never chased ratings. We did it because we thought it was useful TV to do. I am applying the same standards this time.”


The Outsider will be broadcast by Bloomberg UTV in India and by Bloomberg TV across Europe, Asia Pacific, Africa and Middle East, thereby reaching out to over 300 million viewers globally, making it the first and only show about India to be produced in India and telecast across the globe.


Mr Vikas Gulati, Director, Sobo Films (SBF), speaking about the series, said: “With a combination of Tim Sebastian, one of the leaders in his field, great topics, a young audience and international viewers, we are looking forward to the start of this series. We are proud to be able to give the youth of this country an opportunity to share their views with a global audience. This programme will allow an international audience to hear what the future leaders of this country have to say.”


Tim Sebastian, previously a BBC foreign correspondent, based in Warsaw,Moscow and Washington has over 30 years of reporting from more than 25 countries. He is globally recognized as a sharp, incisive and unbiased cross-examiner and enjoys a track record for fearless and forensic questioning of some of the most powerful people on the planet.


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2 responses to “I’m not chasing ratings here: Tim Sebastian”

  1. Gaurav Kalyan says:

    Why we cant solve are problems ourselves, why do we need some one to do so.

    • Matt Muscardelli says:

      then tell me why you have not been able to. further mr. tim is not coming to solve india’s problems. he’s just hosting a tv show.