Why NDTV India Will Go Off Air For 24 Hours – Strategy With RS

NDTV India, the news channel will go off the air for 24 hours starting 9th November’16.

Their alleged misdemeanor? Jeopardizing national security while covering the Pathankot air base terror attack – live this January.

The Information & Broadcasting Ministry order said the channel’s anchor and reporter revealed sensitive information (on ammunition stockpiled in the airbase, fighter planes, fuel-tanks among other details) during the coverage, which could have been picked up by the terrorists hiding in the airbase and their handlers and could have caused massive harm not only to national security but also to the lives of civilians and defense personnel.

NDTV India finds itself in the middle of a messy reputation management issue.

Let me share with you the way to view a reputational management issue.

It can be divided into 2 types:

• Type1: Competency Issue – In such a case, the person / institution involved has genuinely and inadvertently made an error. Upon realizing it, comes clean and admits to it. Chances are good that the person / institution will be forgiven for the genuine error it had committed inadvertently and apologized for committing it!

• Type 2: Integrity Issue: In such cases, the person / institution knew that he was making a mistake but still went ahead. Now when caught, he tries to give it a competency issue twist – claiming that he committed the mistake inadvertently and wishes to apologize and expects to be forgiven. But the people / institution affected by it are not in no mood to forgive. In such cases the person / institution committing this transgression has to pay a price – be in in monetary terms or in extreme case even serve a jail term.

Which type of issue does the NDTV India case fall under?

In my opinion, NDTV has an integrity issue. And in the realm of news media, they are not alone.

The oxygen for news channel is viewership, which in today’s time is fickle – the viewers do not have loyalty to channel but to ‘sensational’ content. Channels realize that viewers have an insatiable desire to vicariously experience the thrill of getting a ring side view of conflict zone/ crime scene from the safety of their drawing room.

Channels pander to it. The closer the channel is to action, the more sensational information they broadcast and the faster they broadcast it, the more are the chances that the viewers will stay with them – else they will change the channel.

And therefore channel find themselves on a treadmill – having to keep on feeding sensational information to keep the viewers from zapping – result – many a times – inadvertently sensitive information gets broadcasted – which can jeopardize national security. But the anchor / reporting team – in the heat of the moment –blinded by ‘one-upmanship’ end up sharing more than what is prudent & harmless! Result- Channels find themselves in an imbroglio like that of NDTV!

In a case like this, NDTV should have acknowledged its wrongdoing, apologized and vowed to be careful in the future. However, the channel response spun it into a competency issue.

It denied the charge, claimed that it had been singled out for punishment. Moreover, the channel claimed, that the purported violations were based on subjective interpretation of information which were already available in print, electronics, and social media.

This has only compounded matters for them and will deplete public sympathy.

The other question worth asking : Is the punishment sufficient? In my opinion, in addition to the Channel, the anchor / reporter too must be taken to task. Why? To deter other journalists from engaging in this kind of broadcasting. Or at least get them to think 2x before indulging in this type of broadcasting.

Let me end this post by sharing with you the words that are inscribed at the Indian Military Academy, which was spoken by Field Marshal Chetwode, at the inauguration of the Indian Military Academy in 1932:

The safety, honor, and welfare of your country come first, always and every time.
The honor, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next.
Your ease, comfort, and safety come last, always and every time.

Bottom Line: 1. Every citizen should put his or her country interest ahead of their own.

2. We should err on the side of caution, particularly when national security is at stake.

3. Follow words of Field Marshal in everything we do!

[For a more in-depth analysis of reputation management, click here: http://www.foundingfuel.com/…/reputation-management-what-t…/]




About The Author:


In this series, Rajesh Srivastava, Business Strategist and Visiting Faculty at IIM Indore gives you a regular dose of strategy case studies to help you think and keep you one step ahead as a professional as compared to your peers. Rajesh is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore and IIT Kanpur and has over 2 decades of experience in the FMCG industry. All previous Strategy with RS posts can be found here.