Tasks before Rajat Sharma as head of the News Broadcasters Association

20 Sep,2017

 

By A Correspondent

Veteran journalist and Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of India TV Rajat Sharma was elected President of the News Broadcasters Association for 2017-18. This happened at the NBA Board Meeting soon after the 10th Annual General Meeting (AGM). Sharma was also President of the NBA from 2014 to 2016. Last year, ABP News Network MD and CEO Ashok Venkatramani was elected President and later India Today Group CEO Ashish Bagga took on that role. Both Venkatramani and Bagga quit their respective organisations while being President.

 

MV Shreyams Kumar

Anurradha Prasad

Meanwhile, MV Shreyams Kumar, Joint Managing Director, Mathrubhumi Printing & Publishing has been elected Vice President and Anurradha Prasad, Chairperson-cum-Managing Director, News24 Broadcast India Ltd is the Honorary Treasurer.

 

Said Sharma in a statement: “I thank all members for electing me as the President of the NBA. As President, I hereby take the opportunity to reassure members that we shall walk together in bringing in more credibility and independence to the news broadcasting industry.I shall put in my best efforts to make the fraternity more accepting of our contemporaries, striving for healthy competition.”

 

Other members of the NBA Board are: M.K. Anand, Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer  – Times Network – Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd, K.V.L. Narayan Rao, Group CEO & Executive Vice Chairperson NDTV Group, Rahul Joshi, CEO News & Group Editor-in-Charge, TV18 Broadcast Ltd, Rajiv Singh, Executive Director & COO – Zee Media Corporation Ltd, Avinash Pandey, Chief Operating Officer -  ABP News Network Pvt. Ltd and I Venkat, Director, Eenadu Television Pvt. Ltd.

 

In most industry associations, unless there is a very specific reason for the move, it’s the Vice President who takes on the President’s role in the next election. Interestingly, MK Anand was Vice President for 2016-17 and was likely to have taken over as President, so the move to elect Sharma is noteworthy.

 

Sharma, it was rumoured, was unhappy with the earlier dispensation of the NBA and had in fact even skipped some Board meetings. A few months back, the NBA had advised its members in the English news space to opt out of the BARC ratings if they felt aggrieved by the BARC decision to publish the Republic TV numbers despite requests to BARC to not publish it. At that juncture, MxMIndia believed that the NBA took an incorrect decision and we wondered why the various NBA Board members who had no direct interest in English news television didn’t object to the NBA advisory. We later learned that Sharma and a few others were not party to the NBA decision, so perhaps our original comment was unfair on him.

 

Rajat Sharma and his team of officebearers of the NBA have a job on hand, given the way the business has been growing. Here’s a partial list of tasks before them:

  1. Landing Page and Dual LCNs: While there has been a settlement on the dual LCN issue, many channels have invested big monies on netting better viewership thanks to deals on landing pages. It is important to have an NBA policy on the issue and a very clear advisory needs to be issued in this regard
  2. Self-Regulation on News Channels: While each channel can have its own editorial policy and it should be free to align itself with a political formation or ideology, the role of the self-regulator becomes critical, as very often guests on shows feel truly aggrieved because they are damned on live nightly news
  3. BARC numbers: There has been some discussion whether the weekly ratings issued by BARC should be made more infrequent – perhaps fortnight or even monthly as the sample size of news television-watchers is very low
  4. Given that the stakes are very high for every channel, it’s important that efforts are taken for the greater common good of the fraternity. Employee welfare and safety of journalists is critical.
  5. The biggest threat to news television is from digital. News videos are now freely accessed on the Web, via apps and even on Twitter and Facebook. Sharma and his team need to look at integrating their broadcast and digital operations to work together and forge ahead.

 

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