Hang your heads in shame, NBA Board!

22 May,2017

 

By Pradyuman Maheshwari

The News Broadcasters Association has some really big industry folk on its managing committee… the Board of Directors as they call it.

At a personal level, they are all achievers, and I respect them. Click here for the list. Now, let me first say very unequivocally: I hold no brief for Republic TV. I must confess I am not really a huge admirer of the Arnab Goswami school of journalism. MxMIndia – with our Consulting Editor Ranjona Banerji chiefly and myself – has damned his shows enough when he was on Times Now.

But that’s my – or our – personal view. We believe it’s a free world, and if he does transgress – as in, cross the line, there are enough forces – political, business and legal to correct him. For the now, the masses are lapping him up. He’s the voice of the new Indian.

The fact of the matter is that the Arnab Goswami brand of news television has worked wonders. And this not just in terms of viewership or ratings, but also with those with the monies. Republic TV’s list of benefactors tells the story.

So when he decided to start his own channel, there were worrylines all over. Here was a man who could rewrite the rules of the business if he has enough staying power – moneywise.

Remember just having a credible, independent voice is not enough. If that was the case, MxMIndia would’ve been super-super-successful revenue-wise. But that’s not the case, we don’t aggressively solicity advertising. We just nudge. Those who believe in us, back us.

But this is not our story. This is the story of an industry association leadership that must indeed hang its heads in shame.

Or perhaps wear bangles, like this:

 

 

Gosh, have we gone too far… bahut ho gaya?

Nahin. Nooooo. Do you recall the disrobing of Draupadi in the Mahabharata? What happened on Thursday evening is something as bad as that.

Or let’s look at another example. We all know that the examination-oriented system of education has major problems. We also know that papers leak. We also know that kids cheat. But do we just exit the system screaming “Screw it!”. Will a school or a parents’ association advise students not to take their exams because the Class 10 or 12 exams are a sham?

Well, we can exit the education system. It’s possible to flourish without the degree or certificate. But you’ll need to figure how the world will assess you.

I am not convinced that the News Broadcasters Association – which is headed by some very discerning names – could be buckling under pressure from some members who perceive Republic TV as competition.

If it genuinely felt aggrieved, there were other things that NBA could do. Like when it realised that BARC was going to go ahead with the release of ratings, if it felt it had a genuine case, it could’ve approached an appropriate Court of law (and not the Courts set up by some of our anchors across various channels) and urged for a stay!

Why didn’t it do that?

Why doesn’t the NBA issue a diktat to all its members asking them to not go in for any ratings-boosting activity like dual LCNs, landing pages/slotsetc?

As I write this, I am aware that some advertisers are reconsidering their advertising on the English news channels. They may threaten a pull-out very soon. And much as I would like every media entity to flourish, the English news channels who have pulled out of BARC ratings need to see reason. Or be shown the stick.

 

Here’s what needs to be done:

1. The NBA must reverse the advisory to its English news channels to pull out of BARC

2. The English news channels must get the watermarking back

3. The NBA, ISA and AAAI must convene a special meeting – which may be convened by the CEO of a network/channel who has no skin in the game – like NP Singh of Sony Pictures or any other respected industryperson like, say, Sameer Nair (now CEO of Balaji). Note I have not mentioned the names of Star India Uday Shankar because he is a former news television CEO. Also the Zee and Viacom18 heads have sibling channels in the news business.

4. All broadcasters must take a joint decision on the issue of dual LCNs, landing slots

5. The AAAI must be urged to only deal with channels/entities that are affiliated to the IBF or NBA, so that it will ensure that all channels toe the IBF/NBA line

6. All advertisers on television channels (Patanjali included) should be convinced to become ISA members to ensure that the rules are followed. Similarly, broadcasters should only deal with AAAI-membered agencies.

7. IBF and NBA must admit members provisionally without any delay, on clearance of cheque/RTGS/NEFT etc

8. Since NBA has limited number of members, and there can always be charges that all the channels can gang up against a new entity, there should be a recourse available to an aggrieved member to go to a joint committee of the IBF, NBA, AAAI and ISA which may be set up

9. Meanwhile, BARC must set up a clear deterrent as a rule that if any channel decides to opt out of its ratings, it will not be allowed to return for a period of one year or payment of Rs10-25 crore or some such

10. IBF and NBA must ensure that the BARC advisory/guideline on channels advertising is followed strictly. Those who are repeated defaulters should be penalised in the form of a lower payout of advertising monies on the channel. And eventual debarring of payment.

 

All of the above needs to be actioned before the Week 20 BARC numbers are released.

 

Pradyuman Maheshwari is Editor-in-Chief, MxMIndia. The views expressed here are his own

 

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2 responses to “Hang your heads in shame, NBA Board!”

  1. Raghunath A S says:

    Well said, Pradyumn! Very well said.
    These self-appointed leaders of news TV industry are behaving like the current lost out political leaders. Just as the disgruntled leaders ganged to challenge the authority of an independent election commission’s authority, so are these lynchmob of NBA now blaming the BARC. As political leaders ether blame EVM machines, or the bad weather conditions, or the faulty electoral rolls, so are the leaders of NBA syndicate.

    Irony is, some of these very NBA leaders on their prime time news shows, ridicule such behavior of those digrunted political leaders.

    Eversince he left Times Now, Arnab made no secret about his project plans. He kept going to places on people’s invitations from social forums, educational institution and interacted with them as a Rock star would do. He shared openly his views about the kind of news channel that his new venture would usher in. He openly dispised and challenged these cozy Lutyen based club members of NBA.

    We also saw him questioning and challenging the wold news organisation which treated Indian news stories with utter disdain…!

    If these NBA gangsters were not bothered about Arnob’s new news venutre all these days then:
    > Why were they hurriedly upgrading their news shows?
    > Why few of them quickly went out to commission their HD version?
    > Why did the put their own larger similarly designed bill boards next to a Republic TV’s hoardings?
    > Why these leaders resorted to nervous rating boosting activity like dual LCNs, landing pages or slots etc?

    Acts like these from the NBA Golianths would only polarize more news viewers solidly behind the David of the republic TV in the days ahead, if news such as the one put out by you on mxmindia, comes out in public domain.

    Keep reporting us more of these in the coming days.

    • ananya says:

      Good.. why was the same thing not done when TAM was around? It faced the same issue earlier and the so called industry associations wanted another robust system that would listen to them more openly. Hence Barc was born. Now they have exact same issues with this new baby. So.. should we have a third round of this?

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