The News Broadcasters Federation (NBF), India’s largest industry association of TV news channels representing broadcasters from across the length and breadth of the country, humbly requests advertisers and advertising clients to refrain from renegotiating their advertising deals during the current period when news broadcasters are ramping up their Covid-19 Coverage, despite increase in costs.
In the last couple of weeks, there have been talks where media agencies in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore are having with Broadcasters in these regions to coerce them bring down their effective rate by almost 50% of the normal rates to accommodate them in future media plans for April – May.
A matter of survival
Media agencies in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore coercing broadcasters to bring down their effective rate by almost 50% of the normal to accommodate them in April – May media plans
200-odd channels scrambling for advertising.
Bringing down effective rates in current scheme of things will only worsen things especially for regional news broadcasters, questioning their existence in the post-Covid19 scenario
(the story continues after the MediaBrief editorial)
MediaBrief view: Support the News Broadcasters
Yes, it has to be every man for himself, and every business too, but these are truly testing times for a genre that, along with FM Radio, is the most difficult medium to survive, leave alone thrive, in. There are a couple of leading channels that are much better off than most, and, in fact, far and away out of the red. But for the majority of the news channels that are struggling under crippling circumstances of having to draw upon extremely meagre resources to keep the reportage and information machinery ticking in these desperate times of the COVID-19 battle, there is no logical or even humane way in which the news broadcasters’ asks for extremely well deserved support should or can be ignored. To our mind, the news broadcasters and their teams out in the open today are no less heroic or wonderful than any other government agency fighting to keep the Corona virus at bay from their fellow countrymen.
It is also a fact that every media buying agency is working for its clients, who are in a gigantic revenues- and business crunch, so they will only do their jobs with the utmost sincerity to protect their clients’ interests. So if agencies cannot see it within their emotional make-up to not wince while pressuring news channels for rate cuts (would they dare pressure DD on the Ramayana time slot?) at a time when the channels’ numbers are very high and they have become the best high-ROI brand-wagons for marketers on Television — then it is definitely time for the government to step up and support every news channel with Govt and PSU and PSA advertising, with clearance of payment backlogs — the Income Tax refunds too are being fast tracked, aren’t they? So why not support for the News Channels? In fact, more than indirect advertising support, even with financial support, if required. It is a matter of survival, and in these dangerous times, when accurate, authentic and timely information is the only way to keep 1.3 billion people fighting COVID-19 in unison, can anyone in their right senses, and who isn’t politicking, question the role of news channels, or the importance of Govt advertising to media houses like print, Television, Radio and Online?
The I&B Minister, the Prime Minister’s Office, and the Hon’ble Prime Minister himself — even as he is grappling with a hundred other equally pressing things — must demonstrate, through support, to every news broadcaster that the entire nation, through its central and state governments, is supporting them, and respects them and their reporters and teams out on the ground, as the real front-line warriors against this dangerous and deadly pandemic.
What the government can do immediately is to mandate all FTA news broadcasters under the mandatory carriage rules and thereby help them be telecast on all platforms including DD Free Dish, without any charges for the next six months, till the end of September 2020.
Remember, the news broadcasters are fighting not just the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, many are also fighting the equally deadly virus of vicious politicking that is rampant each day without any heed to National health, security and survival. (Pavan R Chawla)
News broadcasters across the board including national and regional are feeling the heat even more because of the larger economic impact due to the lockdown to contain spread of COVID19. There are more than 200-odd channels in these regions which scrabble for a small pie of advertising from media agencies, PSUs and Government (State & Central).
Already News broadcasters are reeling under heavy operational and financial pressure with costs increasing due to the lockdown and bare minimum support from advertising. Bringing down effective rates in current scheme of things will only worsen things especially for regional news broadcasters, questioning their existence in the post-Covid19 scenario.
The agencies and advertisers renegotiating and asking for deep discounts during this crucial time is completely unjustifiable, unviable and counter-productive to the fraternity at a time when consumers are glued to news channels right from early morning until late night shows, which has resulted in a 251% increase in news channels, a historic record for the news broadcasting industry. Television consumption has reached its highest ever growth of 43% in March 2020 since the Combat Covid-19, according to BARC. Almost half of the population of the country is watching TV all 7 days in a week.
Arnab Goswami, President of News Broadcasters Federation, and Managing Director, and Editor-in-Chief of Republic TV, said, “News channels are delivering incredible value and ROI for all advertisers. Not just that they are also doing an incredible job as an essential service in these trying times. We are proud of all broadcasters in the news genre who are leading from the front as Covid warriors, and appeal to everyone in the media industry and advertisers and agencies to support the news broadcasters and not squeeze them at a time when they are in the thick of the battle against Covid 19.”
Jai Krishna, Secretary-General, News Broadcasters Federation, said, “Since the lockdown, news broadcasters have seen a historic rise in viewership in the past two weeks, as common citizens rely on TV news channels for authentic, reliance information on the pandemic and the government initiatives to combat the spread of the novel Corona virus.
“This is a golden opportunity for advertisers and agencies to build their brands by reaching out to the well informed consumers via the news broadcasters,” Krishna said.
Kartikeya Sharma, Vice President, News Broadcasters Federation, and Managing Director of ITV Network, which operates news channels including NewsX, and India News, said, “Advertisers should support the news broadcasters as this is the time where they are giving the highest return on investment compared to any other genres, by deploying additional costs and manpower to create new content — even putting their lives at risk — which is fueling the information need of people at large, as a public service.”
Since the lockdown, the number of channels watched by consumers per week/viewer has increased to 42%, according to BARC. This shows that the viewers are really curious about what is happening around during this lockdown period through the news channels. Also viewers are now surfing at least five to six news channels during this period compared to an average of about two news channels earlier.
BARC data for the last week clearly reflects that during even Non-Prime time TV viewership growth in HSM increased by 97%. TV Consumption in Rajasthan has reached sky rocket high of 76% during the first week of March 2020 from 15% in the pre-COVID week, according to BARC.
Shankar B, Vice President, News Broadcasters Federation, and CEO, Fourth Dimension Media Solutions. Fourth Dimension, is part of Chennai-based SRM Group, which own and operates PuthiyaThalaimurai, a news channel in Tamil language, said, “News channels at this point in time are playing a key role in disseminating the right information and it’s a daunting task at this hour with very limited resources. Renegotiating rates and commercial terms would dampen our spirit and will make our business model unviable since most of us are also FTA news broadcasters.”
According to BARC, viewership of News in South India during non-prime time grew by 283% and in prime time grew by 232%, since lockdown in late March.
Riniki B. Sharma, Vice President, News Broadcasters Federation, as well as Chairperson and Managing Director, Pride East Entertainments Pvt. Ltd., which owns and operates North-East Live and News Live, news channels in the north-eastern part of India, said, “In this prolonged Covid -19 , a pandemic that has hit the world . Despite of sequential jump in data we are still fighting the unknown. Media being one of the front warriors in spreading awareness and reaching to people and the regional media like us reaching to nook and corners of North East reaching 46 million people is going through its hardest face. Therefore I would appeal to all the advertisers to support us and co-operate with us at least by not bargaining and reducing the existing rates which will all help us to sail through our hard times.”
TV Consumption in North-East has reached 34% during the first week of April 2020, from mere 5% in pre-COVID week, according to BARC. The data brings out the impact that news broadcasters, with at least 9 people per TV household, one of the largest in the country by audience reach, making news broadcasters a dominant medium to reach to the common man in these critical time.
Anand Sankeshwar, Managing Director of DIGHVIJAY 24X7 NEWS, a Karnataka-based news broadcaster, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting the Media industries. Regional News channels playing an important role in the COVID-19 response, including creating awareness / preparedness and is working 24×7 to provide timely news to the viewers. The effect of this covid-19 with the economy of the country is assumed to be continue till next 6 to 9 months. Our Kannada News TV channel “DIGHVIJAY 24X7 NEWS” is just 3 year old and still it is under heavy loss.
“Our news channel is one of the fastest growing TV channels in Karnataka. As per BARC for week 12, our TV channel has achieved the growth rate of 164% to 180%. At this point of time drop in the advertisement revenues may directly impact on the sustainability of our TV channel. Considering this the advertisers and advertising clients are requested not to renegotiate their advertising deals with the regional news channels and stand with TV Channels at these moments.”
TV Consumption in Karnataka has reached 33% during the first week of March, 2020 from 4% in the pre-COVID week, according to BARC.
Anil Ayroor, Outreach Task Force, News Broadcasters Federation, and Chief Operating Officer, Twentyfour News, a Malayalam news broadcaster, “Already the rates are very low, and if there is further cut in rates, it will destroy regional news channels. And it will also have high pressure on inventory. Since there is also withdrawal of ads in GEC, the clients should consider high viewership growth even in female sector and should add more female based products in news sector. This will cheaper and economical for clients to reach out target groups other than male TG.”
TV Consumption in Kerala has reached 45% during the first week of March ,2020 from 4% in the pre-COVID week, according to BARC data released on Thursday.
Anil Singh, member, Distribution Committee, News Broadcasters Federation, and CFO at TV5, a Telugu News broadcaster, said, “Regional broadcasters’ role in creating awareness and preparedness against Covid-2019 is very critical in coming 6 months. Hence any drop in revenues will directly impact the sustainability of the broadcasters, which neither or government, corporate or society can withstand hence advertisers and agencies are requested to stand with regional broadcasters in these moments. Together we can succeed.”
One of the most astonishing TV consumption increase has been seen in the state of Andhra Pradesh/Telangana, TV consumption from a negative figure grew to 28% in the state during the last week in comparison to the post lockdown week, BARC data showed.
NBF counts Dighvijay, DY365 News, First India Rajasthan, Gulistan News, IBC24, India News, JK 24X7, Living India News, News Live, News Nation, NewsX, North East Live, Odisha TV, Prag News, PuthiyaThalaimurai TV, Republic Bharat, Republic TV, S Newz, TV5, and Twenty Four News among its founding members.