“Wind of change happens whenever a merger or a takeover happens in organisations. Look at Twitter Inc. Each organisation is run by the promoter’s vision. When it changes hands, obviously vision also changes. And restructuring/retrenchment is a part of it – change of leadership,” observes a former employee of NDTV, who spent over 15 years with the organisation.
S/he notes that several current employees who are still with the news brand are worried.
“I have constantly been in touch with a whole bunch of former colleagues. The current mid-management employees are worried, as they have spent over twenty years at NDTV. And if they get the marching orders it will be a daunting task for a majority of them to get another equally paying job in the same or even similar industry,” s/he says.
“On the other hand, there is optimism that things will be better now. They were told that this year there will be an incremental change in paycheck. Many of them are hoping it will be run like a corporate entity and things will be structured differently,” the former staffer adds.
For the outside world, the Adani takeover has led to a dissonance between what brand NDTV stood for, with what it will stand for now.
As Supriyo Gupta, CEO, Torque Communications puts it: “The Prannoy Roy NDTV brand is dead. Wait for the Adani NDTV TV brand. As it should be.”
Exits will impact loyal viewership
“Though one can only surmise the reasons for departure of top talent from NDTV, there is circumstantial evidence that can be attributed to Adani’s takeover of the news channel. These high profile journalists who exited were the face of NDTV and their exit will most likely also impact erstwhile loyal audience viewership,” notes N Chandramouli, CEO, Comniscient Group, of which Trust Research Advisory (TRA) is a part.
What about the Hindenburg expose, which has wiped the value of Adani stocks?
“The Hindenburg report and its subsequent impact on Adani stocks has also had a concomitant effect on NDTV share price. Depending on whether NDTV stocks are pledged, it is likely that there will be financial pressure in the system. The circumstances Adani is facing will also limit his ability to invest more money into a non-core business. Recruitment of new high-calibre talent will also not be easy,” adds the CEO, whose TRA had ranked NDTV as the most trusted English news channel more than once.
Use brand value to steer new course
Ad veteran Ramesh Narayan notes that today one can tell a person’s ideological or at least political leanings by the TV news channel they watch.
“NDTV had a loyal audience who were happy to remain in that particular echo box. The Adani takeover was expected to radically change that ideological narrative. It was almost natural that Ravish Kumar, Nidhi Razdan, Srinivasan Jain etc. would prefer to exit, hopefully with a good package, along with the Roys. NDTV would gradually see a shift in its audience depending on how radical the editorial shift is perceived to be,” he explains.
But the brand value can still be leveraged by the new owner, underlines Narayan.
“It can definitely hope to use its brand value and steer a new course if Adani invests in good editorial and business people. Whether the funds and the focus needed is available at once is debatable,” he adds.
But the timing is in favour of NDTV. “As we head into election year, it is the best time to position or resuscitate a national news channel. So the opportunity to do well definitely exists,” notes Narayan.
“Personally, forgetting the political stance, I loved the fact that NDTV always espoused good causes. And good is fortunately something that is valued today. I hope Adani group realises that and encourages the editorial team to keep the flame of good alive in NDTV,” he surmises.
As for some of the former employees who still command a loyal following, it’s time for a fresh start. Reliable industry sources confirm that a new brand is in the offing, albeit not in the broadcast space.
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