Other news channels are also ramping up their primetime shows in anticipation of Republic’s launch.

Primetime war ramps up India Todays answer to Arnab Goswami is Anjana Om Kashyap
news English News Monday, May 01, 2017 - 17:31

As Arnab Goswami’s new venture Republic gets ready to go on air in a few weeks’ time or less, there is a primetime revamp happening across English news channels, and India Today Group played their cards in a manner which very few in the industry would have expected. Their answer to Arnab’s wild popularity and high-energy pre-launch branding isn’t to bring on board one of the usual suspects, but to capitalise on one of their own from the Hindi news channel Aaj Tak – Anjana Om Kashyap.

And ITG has announced this in style – by putting up a guerilla-marketing style hoarding just beside one of Republic’s. In the India Today banner, as you can see below, Anjana looks straight into the camera, with the tagline ‘Reached and Waiting’, a response to Arnab’s ‘With you soon.’

It was only recently that Anjana, a popular primetime anchor on Aaj Tak known for her high-decibel show Halla Bol, was brought onto India Today TV as a replacement for Karan Thapar, who parted ways with the channel. She has now taken over the show ‘To the Point’ on the 7pm plot on weekdays. Fluent in both Hindi and English, Anjana has also had shorter stints with Zee News and News 24, but it was her news-anchoring in Aaj Tak which made her a rage among Hindi news audiences.

So, what’s the strategy behind pitting Anjana against Arnab?

ITG’s Chief Marketing Officer Vivek Malhotra wished not to speak too much about this, and had just this to say, “News doesn't wait for anyone. Someone had to set the record straight. And we did.”

Anjana herself told TNM that she would not comment on the marketing campaign, but that she has a specific editorial goal in taking to English primetime. “I have established myself in Aaj Tak, and today, other Hindi news channels look to Aaj Tak and say, let’s do what they do. The reason for that is we knew how to connect with people. That is what I want to bring to English news. There is a certain disconnect with the audience in English news, and I would like to bridge that gap,” she says.

However, a source within ITG points out that projecting Anjana as the response to Arnab works at many levels.

“We are now concentrating on the race for information handouts from the government. If you notice in the past few months, specific issues have been rolled out as campaigns in news media, nudged by the government. And these campaigns go on to become policy debates and effect in policy change. We can see this happening with VVIP culture and Triple Talaq debate. We want to fight this kind of handout journalism with sharp and incisive journalism and we feel Anjana can make that happen,” said the source. 
 
“Also, we have to play fire with fire. Anjana is a high-energy anchor. She has sharp, intelligent questions, but cuts through the ice to get to the answer,” the source says.

Further, Anjana has high popularity with Hindi speaking audiences too, which gives ITG the opportunity to grow their English news audience over different time bands.

Meanwhile, other news channels are also ramping up their primetime shows in anticipation of Republic’s launch.

At Times Now, a source in the newsroom said that new shows are being launched and the packaging of news is being changed to keep up with the competition. Times Now has also adopted a reporter-first branding model, with several reporters at bureaus being promoted on air with special promos. Anchors like Anand Narsimhan have also got their own promotions.

At News18, a senior journalist said that the effort is to put up a ‘combined front’, with the entire primetime band being revamped. “We are launching a new show at 7pm today, last week we launched one at 8pm. We have rebranded our 9pm show, and we are promoting a lot more faces,” said the senior editor.

Read: Republic test broadcast begins: ‘We are your voice,’ says Arnab’s new channel

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