Zee TV to take on CNN, BBC and RT with global news channel WION

rohit-gandhiIt’s an idea that India’s most popular news anchor Arnab Goswami never tires of plugging, but it is Times group’s local rival Zee News which has beaten Goswami to launch the first Indian origin global news channel.

The channel, christened WION, will cover global news events from a ‘South Asian perspective’, which should be a bit like how Russia Today and Al Jazeera covers international events for their audiences.

“WION aptly stands for ‘World is One News’ and will give a global view of the world with a South Asian lens,” said Subhash Chandra, Chairman, Essel Group & ZEE.

The channel is likely to be available globally, but target the South Asian diaspora who want to see the major international news with a ‘South Asian’ perspective. Many South Asians feel that international networks cover news from a Western perspective, except for Al Jazeera, which covers it from a Middle Eastern perspective.

WION will have bureaus across the globe. Using a mix of young and seasoned journalists with diverse nationalities, the channel promises to be “on the forefront of what’s happening today in thought-provoking ways.”

“WION’s target audience is Generation Z, not in terms of age, but in terms of values, beliefs and attitude. A generation that is global, social, visual and tech savvy,” it said.

Times Now editor Arnab Goswami has repeatedly suggested that Indian journalism is mature enough to now deserve a global news channel which will be watched across nations.

For its part, Zee seems to have modeled its new product on RT, the international news and digital brand from the Russian government which has been very successful in tapping into the youth constituency in the West.

“WION is a mobile-digital first platform and later will be an international television channel. The news content will be available to audiences at their convenience, on their preferred screens.”

The network will use technology to bring in user-generated content, it is the audience’s voice that will define WION. Its newsgathering teams will be equipped with mobile technology for an ‘anytime-anywhere’ live approach, the Indian broadcaster added.

Zee Group is one of India’s oldest television news provider, but has not yet been able to capture the Indian English speaking market, which dominated by groups such as Times of India, India Today and Network18.

In August last year, Zee said it will finally enter the English news space in India, announcing the appointment of Rohit Gandhi as the editor for the venture.

At the time, it was assumed that the market for the channel would be largely in India. However, the latest announcement suggests that instead of taking on established brands such as Times Now and CNN IBN, Zee will focus on covering international news.

This will reduce competition as its rivals will be western-focused channels like CNN, BBC and RT. Zee, in comparison, will be able to provide for time for stories that are of higher interest to a South Asian audience, such as the rise of terrorism and so on.

ZEE WION will launch ‘this summer’, the group said.

“With WION, we will meet the aspirations of 2 billion South Asians by delivering a global News network reflecting a South Asian world perspective. It’s high time for South Asian reporting from front lines, war zones and prominent global capitals,” Rohit Gandhi said.

With an aim to tap the emerging 4G revolution, Zee also seems to be focusing on mobile news and videos as well.

“While a TV channel is the face of this mobile-first start-up, our newsgathering, reporting, production and publishing processes are an ambitious leap into a multiscreen future. We aim to disrupt conventional ways of thinking about news and set a new template for storytelling across platforms,” Gandhi added.
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