Kannada News Watch online

The Kannada news space has been abuzz with action all of last year especially with new launches and the momentum has continued with the launch of another new player, Public TV. With the new entrant, the number of players totals to six, including TV9, Suvarna 24X7, Samaya 24X7, Janasri, Kasthuri Newz 24, Udaya News.
Besides the new launches the market which one can estimate to be around Rs 100 crore (only Kannada news) has been also on an overdrive on some of the existing players looking at potential buyers. TV9 has been in news as it has shown interest in diluting its stakes only to build its business further while there has been news on Janasri being keen to offload their share and on a lookout for potential buyers besides Samaya too keen on selling.
With the new players coming in the truth is that there has been growth in this genre but there is also the view that some of the players have come into the business for propaganda, as the entertainment industry and politics go hand in hand in the South. So while Congress MLA Satish Jarkiholi started Samaya 24X7where news came of H D Kumaraswamy showing interest in the channel, Reddy brothers of Bellary own Jansari, Kasthuri Newz 24 is run by Anita Kumaraswamy who runs Kasthuri TV while Samaya 24X7 is Member of Parliament and Asianet boss Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s baby. Public TV is led by H R Ranganath who was earlier with Kannada Prabha and Suvarna News. In fact, the channel has been promoting itself by saying it’s the only channel run by a Kannadiga.
Mahendra Mishra,So the grouse as Mahendra Mishra, Director, TV9 Karnataka and News9 outlines is, “There has been a growth in Kannada news genre but I would put it as negative growth. If new players come into the fray it is obvious that it would lead to increase in the viewership pie but this growth has come at the cost of the news business. What one sees today on many of the Kannada news channels is not a pro-journalism but more on the lines of being pro-party. It is a sad story and we would really like professional players to get in the business and raise the bar.”
Coming from the leader this statement is thought provoking considering that TV9 has almost 60-70 percent share in this market and its reach is more than Udaya TV which is the leader in GEC. It is also India’s biggest non-Hindi news channel in terms of viewership. The second position is of Suvarna News which stands at 60-70 GRPs while all the other players are fighting for the third spot and here too the gap between the second and the third is too huge. In this race, ironically Udaya News is nowhere close. In fact, another sad state that is expressed by an insider at Kasthuri TV is that many new players have been selling at extremely low rates thus spoiling the market altogether and making it difficult for genuine players to find its footing. He said, “For us, right now the focus is to beat Janasri and Suvarna and get a clear number three position in the market.”
The state of affairs doesn’t seem too rosy for the players even if new entrants are there in the market. The revenue size has not grown despite new players. There seems to be stagnation in the market mainly because there is more focus on views and propaganda than on news and players entered with vested interest without a long term view. Essentially further growth will come when serious players get into news business. There is a need to build perception and credibility and go beyond TRPs.
Suresh Selvaraj, ED and CEO, Asianet News Network however is bullish on this genre. He said, “We have seen jump in Kannada news viewing and have seen growth. Our channel is different from the rest as there is a difference between mass and class and we provide class to the mass.”
Anil K Sathiraju, Associate VP and Head South, Mudra Max, observed, “Out of the six news channels which exist, viz., TV9, Suvarna News 24×7, Janashri, Samaya 24×7, Kasthuri Newz 24 and Udaya News channel, TV9's relative share is the dominant with close to 60 percent channel share among 15+ CS (latest six weeks’ average). Between Suvarna, Janashri, Samaya & Kasthuri the balance shares are split. Udaya News comes as the last. TV9 has been in this genre for the maximum time and therefore has the first mover’s advantage. While one has to wait and watch how Public TV does, the feedback is quite positive in the market with lot of marketing efforts by the channel. They also claim to be a ‘balanced opinion’ated channel.”
Karthik Lakshminarayan, COO, Crest (Madison Media), said, “Whenever there is a growth/spurt in the number of entrants in a category, growth is imminent and is good for all. It helps the consumers as they get options, it helps advertisers as they can segment audience better and target individually and specifically. Definitely a win-win. I don’t think that six players in this genre suggest overcrowding. It’s the natural way to grow and in most developed markets the number of news channels are equal to or more than this. The number of Hindi new channels or Tamil news channels are more than six and they don’t seem to be doing too badly (barring maybe a few) so why should this become a deterrent in this market?”

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