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NDTV Profit - initial impressions

The first impressions are nothing to go by, especially when you are talking about a new, 24-hour business channel from ND TV. This is what caught our eye on the frst two days of NDTV Profit's beaming. As time goes by, we promise to upload a complete review.



Coming from the house of Prannoy Roy, NDTV Profit is positioned straight against CNBC-TV 18, currently the leader among business channels in India. CNBC TV-18 already has a loyal audience, cultivated over the years. 

NDTV is no stranger to business broadcast. In the last few years, NDTV had already become a semi Indian business channel in the mornings, tracking the stock market and running a stock ticker throughout the day, even to the irritation of general news watchers. But NDTV's business programmes have been reasonably well-made and compare well with CNBC's. NDTV's business prowess has always been highlighted during the Union budget presentation, when they are on par on with CNBC TV-18.

The NDTV Profit screen is almost indistinguishable from CNBC-TV 18's. I guess this could be because both channels source market intelligence from Bloomberg. The main box showing the market indicator, a small box showing the anchor, two tickers running at the bottom of the screen showing stock prices on BSE and NSE, the news ticker above it which runs constantly, the market & commodity indices which keep changing on the bottom right - the similarity to the CNBC TV-18 screen is total. of course, we were familiar with the same in the business section of NDTV earlier, but if I expected any new design, I was disappointed.

The major chunk of NDTV Profit's content includes reports from the stock market, interviews with experts from markets and banking apart from corporate honchos, corporate earnings, tracking market indices, advice on personal finance and the stock market and phone-in programmes.

There is nothing novel about any of this, though I appreciated NDTV Profit's slickness of programming. From Day one, it handled itself with the agility of a channel that has been on air for a while. Through all the time I watched NDTV Profit, I did not see a single programming error, though the anchors, as was only to be expected, continued to pose the most predictable questions to their interviewees -- that is, when they were not asking completely dumb questions. One anchor asks a technical analyst: So, Mr Mathew, would you check on the technicals before buying stock XYZ? It was news to me that the technical analysts would be doing anything other than checking technicals before buying, or selling, or holding any stock. I think anchors should do more homework before leaving home. 

That may be true, and the anchors can do with some serious preparation, but still NDTV Profit anchors are quite the best in their class. (Which may not be to say much.)

Some of the upcoming NDTV Profit programming slots are Big Fish, Hot Property, Eating Out, etc. We promise a complete review soon.

Business media, we feel, have been hugely overrated in India. There have always been more business newspapers in India than there are readers. But there has been little, if any, training in business journalism in J-schools. With the abundance of business dailies and the consequent shortage of talent, most of the business journals are populated by journalists who have little idea of what they are writing about and editors who are no better. Unlike in general media, the business media demands a longer gestation period for people to grow roots, by which time business journalists become frustrated with the pay and move to public relations.

Look at the irony of having four business newspapers in India - Economic Times, Business Standard, Business Line and the Financial Express. The leader leads by a margin of over a lakh. The real battle for the crumbs is between the rest - BS, BL and FE. It's a veritable Schumacher-versus-the rest kind of battle. The backbenchers don't even think of them as worthwhile competitors to the leader.

Business magazines in India too have been a mixed success. Business India is in dire financial straits for too long. Business Today plods on as a magazine which has completely lost touch with the readers. Its choice of cover stories highlights the enromous divide separating the editor from the reader. The only business magazines which have made a mark in India have been Businessworld and Outlook Money, both of which largely piggyback on pesonal finance.

Even then, there seems to be space in the business channel segment for NDTV Profit. But if the new channel's tagline "News You Can Use" is any indication, there has been utter lack of creative thinking somewhere in NDTV Profit. Excuse me Dr Prannoy Roy? Haven't we seen this tagline everywhere from newspaper classifieds to DIY ads? Couldn't someone in the creative team come up with something more imaginative for NDTV Profit than 'News You Can Use'?


God save the Malayalee

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