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ZMCL’s English news channel will be technology driven: Subhash Chandra

MUMBAI: Zee Media Corporation Ltd’s (ZMCL) proposed English news channel will be positioned as a technology-driven news channel, Essel Group chairman Subhash Chandra has said.

“We are about to launch an English news channel. We were discussing the whole technological engine we are going to use. I understood what technology my colleagues wanted to introduce in the news space,” Chandra said while giving a valedictory speech at Exchange4Media conclave here.

“I said why we don’t have a vision that we are not going to be a news organisation but we are going to be a technology company incidentally giving news as a product. That is the positioning we have decided last week for our English news channel,” he added.

Dr.-Subhash-Chandra,-ChairmanAs reported earlier, ZMCL is planning to launch an English news channel with an Indian point of view in the next fiscal. The company is in talks with CNN to launch an English-language global news channel. The company had recently hired Rohit Gandhi as editor-in-chief of English news broadcast and related content to drive the new channel.

According to Chandra, social media platforms like Twitter have made the task of a news organisation easier as it gives insight into the kind of news that the consumers are demanding.

“Because a news piece is given in 140 letters on the social media, it spreads and starts trending, it gives me an indication that this is the news I must go deep into. This is the news people want to watch and want to know more details. Today, the technology has enabled us to give the news in many more ways and many different packages,” he stated.

“News which I would put on my DNA newspaper might be almost 5,000 words in a large analytical format, but the same news I will break into pieces for TV, for online, mobile and so on so forth,” he added.

Chandra’s Essel Group is moving into factual entertainment or cognitive entertainment, a space hitherto left untouched by Indian broadcasters.

“Strategically, we are certainly moving from Asia towards cognitive entertainment in this country. There is nobody in Asia who is having content creation involving this space,” he said.

“In terms of other technology and distribution, there is so much to do, but I feel that this is, for the media and entertainment world, 2.0 (second generation) in the happening, with the digital world, the content being created and the mindset being changed,” he added.

He also said that start-ups are neither a bubble nor a complete game changer; however, they will help in expanding the market.

Giving his own example, he said that when he launched Zee TV 23 years ago, the film industry feared that it would spell doom for them, but it not only laid the ground for establishment of a TV broadcast industry but also helped in the growth of the film industry.

“I remember that when I started (satellite) television in this country, the film industry felt we would kill the film and theatre industry, but the reverse happened. We promoted films, we partnered with the movie industry, and both grew. Same way the technological start-up companies will continue,” he said.

He also said that linear television would survive notwithstanding the technological innovations.

“People say that linear television as it exists today will be dead 10 years from now. At Zee, we do take technology seriously. We are ahead at least in Asia in terms of adopting technology. But I feel this (linear TV) will survive along with new media. It will give more opportunities to marketers and expand the market as a whole,” he noted.

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