On a day the Pitch Madison Advertising Report 2023 was released showing a marked shift in various trends towards digital, Avinash Pandey, Chief Executive Officer, ABP Network Pvt. Ltd., spoke on ‘why news TV will survive the digital onslaught?’
Quipping that his talk wouldn’t be focused entirely on BARC issues, whatever might have been expected, Pandey noted that to begin with, he didn’t entirely agree with the logic behind the question. “For over a decade now, people from drawing rooms to boardrooms have been telling us that TV is in danger due to digital, and for some reason news TV is the segment they pick on most. Everyone seems to know the best ways to run our newsrooms and what works and what causes controversy. The accepted wisdom seems to be that news will disappear from TV sooner or later, because it is more dynamic and freely available now on digital devices.”
Pandey pointed out that even if too many people hadn’t watched news on TV screens in a month, they would have watched news channel anchors and the most recent news on their phones. “So despite the naysayers and doomsday predictors, the medium survives not only in India, but around the world. There is no nation on earth, from superpowers like the US to tech giants like China and South Korea to anywhere else where TV news is not watched, and yet we still face this question about the survival of TV news every day.”
To back up his point, Pandey briefly alluded to BARC and what its figures revealed on the state of news media. “According to BARC, news on TV has seen a 6 per cent increase from pre to post Covid, between 2019 and 2022. In the same period, there has been a 20 per cent increase in news on digital delivery platforms, which means there has been an accumulative aggregate growth of 11 per cent, which is quite a size,” he noted.
“News as a source of information has not lost its vigour, and as long as people are interested in consuming news, it will be available across a variety of platforms as per the convenience of the consumer,” said Pandey.
He added that while social media platforms like Twitter had become places where news was broken today, as compared to the previous monopoly of TV on breaking news stories, Pandey observed, “The same person will watch the news across different mediums, depending on the time of day, convenience and their mood.”
Pandey further said that the same people questioning the relevance of TV news seemed to forget that it was the motherlode from which a number of variables were spun off, repackaged, and repurposed across digital platforms. “It makes business sense to have news on TV and news will stay on the idiot box because intelligent people want that option.”
Pandey went on to briefly encapsulate the history and role of TV news channels in past and present society, their rise in popularity a little over two decades ago, and how TV has helped in the emancipation of information. He also noted that due to the evolution of the media landscape, the powers of video had moved from big broadcasters to everyday people, meaning there was a continuous stream of information coming in.
“Even if your news channel decides not to show something, due to issues with regulators or other factors, somebody else is already capturing and uploading that media and that becomes news. TV news has transformed from being an exercise in channeling government information to a viable business proposition and had to balance journalistic ethics with market considerations,” he said.
Pandey discoursed further on the evolution and consumption of news media saying, “As long as news content on TV remains relevant, there will be a demand for it, because there will always be people, whether old or young who'll always have a desire to know.”
He concluded, “As long as we are curious and have the inherent ability to ask the right questions, news media will survive and be bigger than ever before.”