Times Now goes partly Hinglish. Will TRAI act on it?

11 Jul,2018

 

Mediaah! is back, and hopefully more regularly. There are risks involved in writing it, but then, there is a crying need for some no-holds-barred commentary.

 

By Pradyuman Maheshwari

 

Many moons ago, or so the story goes, a leading detergent powder, trying to impress its clients that it offers more ‘safedi’ with its wash, placed its wares strategically in the sales counters offering white shirts. Nothing wrong in doing this, in fact the innovation was perhaps an Emvie-winning one.

 

But such things are not kosher in broadcast-land.And perhaps with (some) reason. So last year, the telecom and now media regulator (all media, except ‘holy cow’ print, that is) frowned upon dual LCNs. They tried to frown upon landing pages which many channels had (have still?) deployed, but that didn’t work in right earnest.

 

Now we hear that regulator Telecom Regulatory Authority of India and BARC have received a complaint of Times Now going to distributors to put it in the Hindi genre in the EPG. While one may wonder that the channel will be the loser given that no Hindi viewer will turn to it, the reality is that it will actually help increase the reach of the channel. This also has an impact on the advertising front, as marketers pay top dollars for their slots in the premium English news space.

 

We tried to reach the corpcomm of Times Now via Whatsapp to reconfirm the developmentt. The message was blueticked, but there was no reply. Meanwhile, Times Network is said to have deferred plans of its Hindi channel, and is currently relying on the morning Hindi band, and peppering its news bulletins with a bit of Hindi.

 

A few days back, for instance, we found a noontime bulletin with headlines in Hindi and English. Perhaps it would be good for an all-new genre called Hinglish or Engdi.

 

For now, our sources tell us that TRAI hasn’t been as quick on its feet on this one, as it has been with other issues in the past.

 

Times Now is facing some heat ever since it lost Arnab Goswami in November 2016. Although it didn’t slip into oblivion, and has been a good #2 and rated fairly high with some slicing of data, it has lost the numerouno English channel status to Republic. While it has achieved success out of Mirror Now, there’s a view that it should’ve concentrated its energies on just one channel.

 

Faye D’Souza as the primetime 9pm anchor would’ve been far better than Navika Kumar. And now with Anand Narasimhan gone – pictures of a farewell with his 10pm team posted on Instagram, there is another void that the channel faces. Of course some parts of the channel’s thinktank felt that Narasimhan looked like Goswami so he never really got the 9pm pride of place. Whatever be the reason, and if he actually does join CNN-News18, the channel will need to build an all-new face.

 

Back to the Hinglishification of Times Now, we think it’s important that before the TRAI acts on the matter or the Courts step in, the News Broadcasters Association gets its members to sit together and have a clear set of ground rules.

 

PostScript: Will Anand Narasimhan’s move to CNN-News18 change the fortunes for the channel? Despite having maintained a fair consistency in quality and not gone pro-ruling party as one feared it would, the English channel still needs to go some distance in the ratings war. Unlike the Hindi channel News18 India which has taken rapid strides for over a year now. Not yet the #1-3, but galloped way ahead. More on Battleground Hindi News on Mediaah! soon

 

Pradyuman Maheshwari is a senior journalist and commentator. He is also Editor-in-Chief of MxMIndia. The views here are personal

 

 

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