Roy stressed the channels’ core strength was the quality of the
journalistic team behind the project. Putting forth what the channels
represented, Dr Roy said the tag line for NDTV 24x7 - "Experience
and truth first" and NDTV India - "Khabar wohi jo such
dikaye (news should always seek to reveal the truth)",
stressed on that theme.
Dr Roy had to answer some tough questioning, especially on NDTV’s
coverage of Gujarat, both at the time of the riots as well as during
the recently held elections where he was accused of clear bias.
Dr Roy stoutly defended the editorial stances that the channel had
taken on Gujarat, adding that his channels would continue to report
as it saw fit and would not buckle under political pressure.
It must also be handed to Dr Roy that he can charm his way out
of any situation. "News is not entertainment as it's a serious
profession," he said, probably with his tongue firmly in cheek.
The barb appeared to be directed principally at old associate turned
rival Star News though he would not be drawn into a comment as to
who his main competitor was. "We are not a dumb channel for
dumb people," Dr Roy added for good measure.
Is NDTV also in the business of breaking news and going in for
sensationalism? "We believe in showing the truth without any
sensationalism and we will continue to do so. Without bowing under
any pressure," Dr Roy said as pens and pencils flew across
notepads to take notes.
And how unfortunate that what would have been the only Indian media
company to be embedded with the coalition forces in Iraq, could
not do so as NDTV channels were not on air. In hindsight though,
probably, NDTV would thank God as not being on air saved it from
the cheer-leading that most Western embedded journos did for the
Allied forces - a point that was noticed elsewhere in the world
and did not go down very well with non-US and UK media and viewers.
Some of the technical advantages, NDTV says it has to offer, are
as follows: as reported earlier on indiantelevision.com, NDTV has
its own helicopter. Additionally, through an exclusive arrangement
with Deccan Aviation, NDTV will have access to nine other helicopters
and two planes in different cities.
NDTV is also employing "opt-out technology" that will
allow viewers in one city to watch local programming while the rest
of the country is watching the national news schedule, claims Dr
Roy. "To begin with, Mumbai would have its own Marathi programme
every evening," said Dr Roy.
And following the lead provided by Star India, Mumbai is getting
prominence in the scheme of things. "Mumbai will be the national
news hub for the network," says Dr Roy.
Dr Roy sought to highlight the brand equity the network possessed
when he declared that advertisers had committed ad spends of over
Rs 100 million even before the launch of the channel.
That Dr Roy is a shrewd businessman as also a good TV personality
can be gauged from the fact that he went in for a live press conference
covering 14 cities. Q&As back and forth from different cities,
including "smaller centres" like Lucknow, Jaipur, Ahmedabad
and Hyderabad, not only was a first of its kind in the industry,
but also saved him money on separate press conferences across the
Though Dr Roy also felt that journalists should only ask questions
and not answer them, the broadcasting icon, as a the press release
described him, is adept at avoiding tricky queries.
Take, for example, a poser to him by indiantelevision.com at the
Delhi studio, from where the whole exercise was being anchored,
"How much of investment has gone into the two channels? What
would be the size of the media campaign for the two news channels?
What are the financial details for the tie-up with Deccan Aviation
for the choppers for fast news gathering?". The stock reply
that journalists got - expectedly - no figures because of non-disclosure
Yes, what Dr Roy did admit was as part of the media campaign, NDTV
would also use hoardings, apart from cross channel promos on One
Oh, yes, the journalists were also informed that both the NDTV channels
are fully Indian owned and that NDTV is a debt-free company? Nothing
more nothing less.
Asked whether Murdoch's arrival on the scene at Hughes Electronics
(see indiantelevision.com headline Murdoch
seals $6.6 billion deal for Hughes Electronics) would affect
in some way, the transmission of the two NDTV channels from PAS
10, Roy rolled his eyes and then in his ever-charming way said,
"That seems a bit far fetched.. we don't foresee any problems.
Anyway, PanAm Sat functions more as an independent organisation."
The two proposed channels from NDTV would be on PAS 10 satellite
that is already used by the Sony channels, Discovery, Animal Planet
and BBC, amongst other broadcasters.