Why news channels may walk away unscathed from the TRP controversy

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Updated: Oct 27, 2020 10:45 AM

From advertisers pulling out to alleged TRP scams, news channels find themselves in the middle of a backlash

News channels, news channels controversy,FMCG company Parle and automobile brand Bajaj announced its decision to refrain from advertising on certain news channels.

So what’s the latest controversy about television rating points (TRPs) is all about and why does it matter or does it actually matter? To be sure, this isn’t the first time that news channels have come under fire for its sensationalised content. Remember the murder mystery of late Aarushi Talwar – which news channels had claimed to have solved, even before the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) could. Same goes for the coverage of Mumbai terror attack 26/11 – which saw channels providing live feed to the terrorists – in their haste to cover the event. Hence, let’s call this an old wine in a new bottle – the only difference being this wine is bitter and is only getting bitter in taste with age. “Every news agency has a take on what’s happening in the country and that’s why the perspectives differ. As far as the narrative of the news delivery is concerned, there is a lot that meets the eye because news as a genre today has become an extremely large scale medium which has given way to a certain kind of narrative that has been created,” senior official, on condition of anonymity told BrandWagon Online.

Recently, FMCG company Parle and automobile brand Bajaj announced its decision to refrain from advertising on certain news channels. It all started from the US during #BlacklivesMatter. However, analysts are wary of the movement and company’s alleged virtuous stand. “For brands to pull out of advertising is pure economics as they are looking at brand safety in the times when consumers are asking brands to take a stand. Conversely, there are other brands for whom the environment is perfect. The target audience watching the particular content on news channels is their targeted consumer,” Paritosh Joshi, principal, Provocateur Advisor, said.

As per industry experts, it is also important to understand that Parle and Bajaj were never big advertisers for the news genre to begin with. Hence, their absence doesn’t really make that much of a difference to the channels in question. “We are driven by our core purpose – to lead public opinion and discourse while ensuring that only authentic information reaches our viewers and public at large. Our news brands broadcast well researched content and our news rooms are designed to be the quickest to update our demanding viewers faster than anyone else. The testament to this is our long standing position as leaders in the Indian broadcast news space with the unwavering support of our advertisers and viewers. We are guided by our conscience and brand values more than our viewership numbers. That’s why, even as the genre is wracked by allegations and scandals, Times Network stands unperturbed,” a statement from the Times Network, stated.

According to industry estimates, currently a ten second ad spot costs anywhere between Rs 15,000 – 20,000 during prime time between 8-10 pm. The same ad spot was earlier priced between Rs 40,000 – 50,000. Even as the volume of advertising has returned on TV, ad rates continue to remain low. This is perhaps also the reason behind chasing TRPs – the numero uno position guarantees higher ad rates – thereby resulting in higher revenue. The situation is a bit tricky especially in case of news channels which do not have subscription revenue flowing in – and that’s why it’s important to have the ad revenue coming in. As for content, while a few may refrain from watching, in a country of 1.3 billion people – there are enough and more who want to watch such content. “There is always a market for the alternate truth. What some people find abhorrent, others find absolutely appropriate or fair,” Joshi exclaimed.

Read Also: Why brands advertised cautiously on coverage around late Sushant Singh Rajput on news channels

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