Interview with Key Journalist

Lok Sabha TV CEO Rajiv Mishra

“There is complete freedom given to our editorial team”

He is a man on a mission. He has not only managed to position the Lok Sabha TV as the number one channel in the TRP race, but has also changed its revenue model. When the channel was launched in 2006, it could earn just about Rs 1.5 crore in the first financial year. But with this techno-savy man in command, the channel is all set to earn Rs 8 crore through regular advertising and other campaigns in the current financial year. The man who has changed the face of the Lok Sabha TV is none other than Rajiv Mishra, who has worked with almost all leading television and newspaper brands in the country. Having Masters in Broadcasting from the International Academy of Broadcasting, Montreux, Switzerland, and MBA in Media Management from Metropolitan College of New York, Mr Mishra is now the new CEO of the Lok Sabha TV. In a freewheeling interview with India Empire’s Sanjay Kaw, Mr Mishra shared his experiences he has had with the LSTV during the past three months. He also shared his views on the prevailing political climate of the country
You have worked with almost all the leading brands of both television and newspaper industry in the country. Why you chose to be a part of the public sector broadcaster?
Each job has been a new learning for me. I worked with several private sector broadcasters. But I always had one thing in mind that one day or the other I will be part of the public sector broadcaster. The reason was simple. I wanted LSTV to be the number one channel of the country. Look at the current TRPs. We are at par with Times Now. All other channels are far behind us. Our revenue has gone up by 300 per cent in the past three months in comparison to the first quarter of 2011. All this has been achieved by team LSTV. What all I had to do was to make maximum use of the latest technology. Also, we were more focused on the content. We introduced some innovative programmes. Also, we changed the look and feel of the channel and paid maximum attention towards presentation of the news.

There is a perception that one cannot work freely in a place like LSTV?
Before I joined this place, I too was made to believe that there would be many bureaucratic hassles in running the channel. I thought there would be a lot of intervention from the political class. But once I joined the channel, I faced no such problems. In fact, we are free to air anything we think is editorially correct. But we make sure that whatever goes on air is authentic. There is complete freedom given to our editorial team. There is a lot of pressure from advertisers and corporates in private news channels. But, here we don’t accept advertisements from any private company. That’s why we have complete freedom in deciding our content.

What is your editorial brief?
Our main focus is on the editorial content. We cover the proceedings of the Lok Sabha. We take up the pressing issues concerning the country. We are very careful in selecting the panelists for our discussions. We try our best to get the best of the experts on our channel. After all, our channel is watched in every nook and corner of the country.

There are no entertainment shows in the LSTV. So, how you compete with other channels?
We are a news channel. And our focus is only on news. For entertainment, a viewer can easily watch any entertainment channel. My view is very clear on this. All news channels should focus on news only. But unfortunately, all private channels use content of other entertainment channels to get more TRPs.

There is a lot of entertainment going on in the Lok Sabha. Your take on the prevailing political climate of the country…
Our politicians are very mature. Though there have been some corruption-related cases in the past few years, but many good things have also happened during these years. We are a competing nation. Both India and Pakistan got freedom in 1947. But see where we stand today. Our neighbouring country is nowhere close to us. This has been possible only because we have a matured political and bureaucratic class in the country.

Back to TRPs. How you achieved this milestone?
I value human resource. That’s why when I joined the LSTV, I interacted with each and every department. Once I got the feedback from all my colleagues, then we planned our strategy. We made the best use of the latest technology. I motivated each and every colleague to come up with innovative ideas. We worked like a team. And results are before you.

What is the target audience of your channel?
Our target audience is all those who think. It is this set of people who play a role in changing the social and economic profile of the country.

What should be the role of the LSTV in the 24 x 7 news zone ?
We share a responsibility to contribute to political, economic and social development in ways consistent with democratic principles of our Constitution. We will always present news based on facts. We will like to educate people about parliamentary activities and the role of the august House to help empower the citizens of the country. We should be seen as more informal, modern and informative channel in the near future.

What are the challenges before you?
The entire broadcasting scenario is entering into digital domain. The advent of digitalization is presenting a new paradigm shift for the Public Sector Broadcasters. This scenario calls for a well-thought out strategy to deal with the new environment where convergence is all set to play a major role.

What plans you intend to implement in the way forward?
We are working on each and every faculty of the channel. We are trying to bring in synergy within different departments. From content to news presentation, marketing to distribution and an effective use of new technology is all we are working on to make LSTV a happening product.

Any changes you feel should be made in the channel’s Fixed Point Chart (FPC)?
The FPC is the soul of any channel. But the FPC has to be scientifically prepared. We are constantly working on our FPC. We have slotted fixed special shows in fixed time bands to catch more eye-balls. And we are planning to launch some more in-depth analytical shows in the near future.

April 2012

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