Jaldi 5 with Ritu Dhawan: Hindi news is for both masses and the classes

05 Jun,2013

For someone in the news television business, Ritu Dhawan prefers to stay away from the limelight. But with India TV having established its numbers and an A-team in place, the objective has been to assert the channel’s supremacy over others. In this Q&A, Ms Dhawan, Managing Director and CEO of India TV, speaks on how Hindi news channels score over their English counterpart, the recent ad campaign in the trade and preparations for the channel’s 10th anniversary.


01. It’s interesting to see your latest ad campaign taking on the English news channels on viewership numbers. Why this desire to put down English channels… it’s not the first time that a Hindi news channel has done so?

We don’t intend to put down English channels or any other channel for that matter. Our attempt is to clear the misconception in a small section of the trade, that India TV is not for the affluent. Some rivals have been indulging in this propaganda for some time. It is high time that we told the truth. This campaign communicates a ground reality. All English news channels put together have been used only as a unit that a section competition has used over a period of time for comparison. We have just added a bit on numbers and made it holistic with top Hindi News Channels compared against the said unit.


01.a Is it because advertisers are biased against Hindi news channels to advertise their premium products?

The fact is that there is a set of advertisers who prefer to advertise premium products on niche channels including English news. But we don’t look at it as a threat. No genre can take care of overall advertising objectives alone. It is about co-existence. In fact Hindi news is for both masses and the classes and this is the biggest strength of the genre.


02. We did a dipstick on the theme of your current campaign and the feeling has been that leading Hindi news channels such as yours should stick to their core strength of reaching out to the masses. Your comments?

While we agree that we are a mass leader, but who says that a mass leader cannot be a class’ choice. Numbers speak louder than words. The campaign in question only compares competition over last 3 months but having said that if you delve a little deeper you will find that the same trend continues, particularly in terms of leadership rankings on same data parameters and markets spread over last two years. Thus, it is safely claimed that India TV is a consistent leader even on the parameters as communicated in this specific campaign. And yes, we are sticking to our core strength only.


03. If you are indeed looking at positioning yourself as reaching out to the urban elite, would you also look at making any shifts in your content strategy and packaging to appeal to those sensibilities?

Precisely this is what we are communicating. We are already reaching out to the urban elite. In fact we are the undisputed leader in India’s top two markets – Delhi & Mumbai for a very long time now. We just have kept a little low profile on this till now. Thus content strategy doesn’t need any major changes, but yes, as we have always been, we will always be innovative and adapting to the fast changing preferences of our vast and varied audience.


04. How has digitization (Phase 1 and 2) been for you (as in, how has it impacted you)? Also, have things improved post the LC1 measurement by TAM given that it tracks more markets in your stronghold of HSM?

Smooth transition during digitization has been the challenge for TV industry in general & news genre in particular. With digitization, India TV has emerged even stronger. In digitized markets of Delhi and Mumbai,(which also are the highest weightage markets for Hindi news viewership and priority markets for advertisers), India TV is leading with a huge gap now, with the nearest competitor thus establishing that India TV content is viewers’ choice.


Presently, LC1 markets are not an advertiser’s top priority in general (except for categories like FMCGs of course). We are doing reasonably well here but there is a slight scope of improvement here. We are sure that the said improvement will happen pretty soon… much sooner than these become priority markets for advertisers.


05. India TV launched on May 20, 2004. As you embark towards the 10th anniversary mark, are you looking at any new launches? Any plans on the English Channel which was once being discussed? It is also a big year for news channels given some state and of course the general elections? Do you see space for regional channels?

Certainly yes, you can expect certain announcements soon. We have been waiting for the digital-transition to smoothly settle down. We have our plans ready. Timing you will get to know soon.


Post a Comment 

2 responses to “Jaldi 5 with Ritu Dhawan: Hindi news is for both masses and the classes”

  1. Ian Afron says:

    News has always been a very essential part in our lives. As Hindi is our national language, so with all due Respect to Hindi, our Indian television industry and all the established Newspapers should promote News In Hindi by Hindi news channels and by several Hindi newspapers.

  2. Patrika says:

    I think Hindi news channels are of great importance in indian television industry as their are million of viewers in india who still prefer to watch hindi news channels.

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