New Hindi news channel Bharat 24 went on air on August 15, 2022. The addition of yet another news channel is being seen as a bold move given that TV news has a limited advertising pie and the times are challenging for media practitioners.
We spoke to Bharat 24’s CEO and Editor-in-Chief Dr Jagdeesh Chandra about his new channel and more.
What was the idea behind launching a new news channel?
When I looked at my life’s journey, I realised there was an unfulfilled wish–the wish to run a national network. Yes, I did that when we launched Zee Hindustan, but it was just for 14 months and there was a raging desire to again be part of a national network, and that’s how the idea of Bharat 24 started.
At 72, it is purely a passion project for me.
There are over 400 news channels in the market, how are you planning to position yourself?
Even if the market is crowded, I believe it follows the rule–survival of the fittest, and we are ready to put in our bit to stay relevant in this crowded market.
My approach to making it successful is–total delegation with total trust. I have seen this approach working in the past. Given the team I have at Bharat 24, I am fully confident that this channel will stand out and create its name and place in the industry. We will also make noise, but it will be dignified not shrill, that’s the difference.
We strongly believe that states make the nation. Our focus will be all the 29 states of India and the Union Territories. Today most of the channels have become just Delhi-NCR channels in terms of content, we want to change that.
There is no news on TV today, it’s just events that are being reported. Bharat 24 will be the first pan-India, grassroot-connected channel. With the largest team of more than 4000 reporters on field, we will ensure our viewers get the widest range of real news from all the corners of Bharat.
What is your revenue strategy going to be given the fact that there is a limited ad pie for news channels?
I have never seen revenue as a challenge. When I took charge of ETV in Rajasthan in 2008, the total revenue of the channel was Rs 50-60 lakh, and when I left the channel in 2015, the revenue was close to Rs 65 crore.
We are backed by a big Gujarat-based conglomerate.I am grateful to them for showing trust in my vision and I will call Bharat 24 a start-up channel, it’s not a Rs 100-crore channel like others.
Revenue is not a challenge for us, because we have a strong backing and we know how to generate revenue from the market. We will go with a selective distribution model, and rest, we believe, the quality of content sets a network apart and not just mere branding.
We have also taken a stand to do our work irrespective of the TRPs because the advertiser knows our value and has faith in us. Bharat 24 will be available across all DTH and MSOs as well as digital platforms as we aim to become the news leader soon.
What is your marketing strategy for Bharat 24?
Marketing is a luxury in news channels. Yes, it is important and we have plans to invest. However, the real marketing is your news. If your news is good, people will come to you and find you, no matter what.
What is your message for today’s journalists?
Today the biggest challenge is that a reporter has no news. I will say -get more news, you have forgotten news, stop reporting events and lets get news back in the newsroom.