More real and appealing

The new-look Zee News sets  

THERE ARE enough 24-hour news channels in all languages to give even couch potatoes information fatigue.

But have the channels stopped coming? No. Neither have they stopped going off the air "for a short break" only to resurface in a new avatar or get a makeover so subtle that it creeps up on one gradually. Like what Zee News has done.

Alka Saxena, Editor and Head of Zee News, says the first thing that they did was change the sets from virtual to real; expensive, but gives the image more depth and greater tone. This took two months, and now the studio in Noida feels more "real" when it is beamed to the drawing rooms across the country.

A survey of the viewers over five months proved informative and educative.

Everyone wanted the signature tune to be changed. Content had always been a strong point, but new weekly features have been added. These include Crime File that looks at the top crime story of the week, and Zee Follow Up, something that newspapers and channels alike are generally lax about.

There are some things that viewers will never know about, but go a long way in making the reporters' job easier and quicker.

Total news automation means a mere half-hour time lag for news to go from spot to air.

Rather like a reporter for a newspaper, Zee News reporters walk with their shoots, do the editing themselves, and news is ready to go on air.

For viewers down South, the news is not too good: it is all Hindi.

A point to ponder is that viewers prefer to make do with the local language channels rather than choose from a slew of Hindi news channels. "Point well taken, but wait until the next makeover," Ms. Saxena says ringing off.

By Alladi Jayasri