There was a time, when NDTV was the leader as far as English news channels are concerned. The educated class, living in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities would rely on NDTV as their primary source of information. The channel which was founded by Prannoy Roy, has given Indian televisions many star anchors and journalists.
Barkha Dutt, was one such star in NDTV’s armoury. After the departure of Rajdeep Sardesai and the semi-retirement of Roy, Dutt became the biggest star in the Universe of NDTV. She was synonymous with her two shows: We The People, which now runs on weekends and The Buck Stops Here, which was a daily debate show, slotted at the 9 PM time slot, until recently.
You may still find some oldies who still have the same respect for NDTV, but that number is declining fast. This is not based only on anecdotal evidence, but also hard data. The Broadcast Audience Research Council of India (BARC), puts out TV ratings in public, and for a long time now, NDTV has seen a huge downturn. The latest data put out by BARC shows a similar picture. Purely talking about private English news channels, NDTV comes a poor fourth:
Not only do the ratings show how NDTV has slipped, but they also reveal who has beaten them to a pulp. The number one channel is of course Times Now, which is synonymous with it’s chest beating, loud, aggressive anchor Arnab Goswami. And if one believes the figures Arnab and Times Now put out for the 9 pm slot in specific, one would think almost no one watched Barkha’s show in the same “super prime time” zone.
NDTV and Barkha Dutt have not mince words while expressing their dislike of Times Now. In May last year NDTV released a promo which caricatured Arnab and his style of journalism. Barkha Dutt has often tweeted slyly about Arnab and Times Now, attacking the style and tenor of the anchor:
My nationalism is made of stronger stuff than the bile of 8 talking heads & one screaming anchor.Sick of dogmas, binaries & banalities.
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) February 15, 2016
In this war for TRPs with Times Now, it seems NDTV has finally waved the gwhite flag and ceded ground to Arnab. NDTV’s leading star Barkha now no longer goes head on with Times Now’s charismatic anchor, and has instead shifted her program “The Buck Stops Here” to the 8pm slot, a good 1 hour before Arnab comes anywhere near a TV screen:
Programming note; we are an hour earlier now at 8 pm. https://t.co/9vjaNHNaem
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) May 2, 2016
With this shift, the popular debate show Left Right and Centre gets slotted at 9.30 pm now, again a bit away from the 9 pm slot, and Sonia Singh is left to face the battle royale at 9 pm with a plain vanilla news bulletin.
NDTV’s new prime-time. Check it out. pic.twitter.com/uyxMxmwp6L
— NDTV (@ndtv) May 3, 2016
No reasons have been given for the reshuffle, but Sonia Singh has tried to make her point that it is only about placing news over debates and views”
@babubasu Will hv intelligent debate on at 8pm,9:30 pm but wanted to underscore centrality of News by placing it at 9pm.Thanks for support
— sonia singh (@soniandtv) May 2, 2016
The real reasons are open to speculation but one cannot deny the facts staring us at us: NDTV has lost out to Times Now by a lot, Times Now’s bread and butter show “The Newshour” with Arnab Goswami pummelled Barkha Dutt’s show at the same time, and that Dutt has no love lost for Arnab and his style.