Come 2016, CNN-IBN will lose the CNN prefix. With no plans to renew the contract, Cable News Network Inc aka CNN will be terminating its ten-year brand licensing and news services arrangement for use of the brand ‘CNN’ in January 2016 with the RIL-owned TV18 Broadcast. Asked if CNN was looking at another partner in India, Rani Raad, chief commercial officer, CNN International, said “CNN remains deeply committed to long-term participation in India, one of the world’s largest and most vibrant media markets. As is the natural course of business, we continue to explore opportunities in India and every other important market around the world.”
AP Parigi, Group CEO, Network18, in an official communique, said, “At the launch of the channel, TV18 was a relatively small organisation; that has changed now. Network18 has grown from two news channels in 2005 to 17 news channels in 2015. Today, we have the largest footprint in the current affairs, regional and business news space in India. The TV18 line-up of channels today are well established and highly regarded in this dynamic, complex and challenging environment.”
CNN, the international news network, will be left with just one active brand in the country. Raad said, “We are very proud to have created CNN-IBN in our decade long partnership with TV18. The channel was a pioneering initiative that combined the best of CNN’s global expertise with TV18’s journalistic and news gathering capabilities. We have truly valued this long-standing partnership.”
Launched in December 2005, CNN-IBN at the time was headed by Rajdeep Sardesai, the erstwhile editor-in-chief of IBN18 Network, that included CNN-IBN, IBN7 and IBN-Lokmat. The agreement was signed between CNN Turner International and TV18 group company Global Broadcast News (GBN). In 2014, post RIL acquiring Network18, Sardesai resigned.
Meanwhile, the news industry is abuzz with Subhash Chandra’s Zee News joining hands with CNN to launch an English news channel.
When contacted, a senior official at Zee confirmed the development, saying currently both the parties are discussing the matter.
According to Ficci KPMG 2015 report, television viewership continues to be driven by Hindi and regional general entertainment channels (GECs), which accounted 49% of the total viewership in 2014. While English news share stood at 0.1%. Similarly, in the advertising expenditure pie, the share of English news channels stood at 5% while Hindi GECs had the largest share at 27.5%.
The English general news space already has strong brands such as Times Now, India Today and NDTV. When asked if there is space for more, Jehil Thakkar, head of media and entertainment at KPMG in India, said, “English news has a niche viewership and still remains a very lucrative space for advertisers, but it really depends on how a new channel positions itself. A new channel will only be able to make a dent through differentiated content.