Nov 26, 2008

Entertainment - India;NDTV turns 20

Puneet Bedi Bahri

It has been 20 years since NDTV began its journey, during which it has transformed from a mere TV channel to a full-fledged media group. To mark this special occasion, NDTV Group CEO KVL Narayan Rao shares exclusively with exchange4media NDTV’s two-decade long journey and the major plans ahead.

Elaborating on how the journey has been for NDTV over these years, Rao said, “It has been a remarkable journey – wonderful, enriching, educative and challenging. We began as a production house and are now one of the most credible and respected media houses in the country and this part of the world. We have also transformed from a news organisation to a total media company, moving into entertainment, lifestyle, new media, technology and media outsourcing. That has been a fantastic journey too. News, of course, remains our first love and will always be a huge part of what NDTV is recognised for, as we expand into the international arena. The journey ahead is going to be as exciting, too, and I look forward to the next 20 years and more.”

On the learnings, Rao said, “The currency of news journalism is credibility and that has been our main quest. To be credible at all times. It is the only strategy one should have in the short and the long term. It applies to everything we do.”

Explaining how the media landscape has changed over the years, Rao opined, “The Indian broadcasting industry is moving at a pace that was unthinkable some years ago. The next few years are going to see massive changes and India will be a country with, arguably, one of the largest media industries in the world.”

He further said, “The most visible change in the last few years has been the momentum in digitalisation and explosion of distribution platforms. Then, of course, the big driver right now is the interplay between TV and Internet and mobile. Media companies which can capitalise on this triple play will be the leaders of tomorrow.”

Talking on how NDTV has evolved in terms of news coverage and presentation, Rao said, “From a half hour a week to a half hour a day to India’s first 24-hour news channel to four 24-hour news channels today, NDTV has grown and transformed itself into India’s leading news broadcaster, watched and respected by all. While breaking news and its coverage is critical to what we do, there are several long form programmes, talk shows, documentaries, features and so much more that we do. Our anchors and journalists are among the most recognised and respected people in this country, reporting on all kinds of news and events on the spot and from our state of the art studios. All this has reflected on air at all times. NDTV has always been a pioneer – the first private producer of news in India, the first with several programming formats, the first to use Betacam, the first to go digital, the first to launch a 24-hour news channel. Others have followed.”

On what have been the differentiators for NDTV, Rao said, “We will always be high quality, credible and responsible journalists and producers. We will not go down the tabloid route.”

On the plans ahead for NDTV, he added, “Leadership in every area we have chosen to be player’s in. ‘Watch This Space’ was our first marketing teaser. Let that be today’s too.”

To mark the occasion, NDTV has lined up some special programmes that include a series of vignettes encapsulating NDTV’s coverage over the last two decades from the ‘The World This Week’ days (1988 onwards), the Star News days right up till recent times. These vignettes would be of about 2-3 minutes and would air every Friday, Saturday and Sunday once a day starting from November 25.

There would also be half-hour specials on a variety of topics such as Tsunami, Kargil, Malnutrition and Hunger, 20 years of Election coverage in India, and Gujarat, among others, highlighting NDTV’s coverage of the event/issue.