PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: It is now obvious that Prannoy Roy's NDTV 24×7 has been well and truly eclipsed by Rajdeep Sardesai's CNN-IBN. In just a few short months, the ground beneath Roy's feet has completely shifted.
Suddenly, all the stories, exclusives and interviews seem to have vanished. Suddenly, everybody is talking of the spunky upstart. Result: NDTV now looks like what Doordarshan did when Roy first came on the scene, only slicker (and redder), if you get what I mean.
So, what can Roy do to regain lost ground?
12) Develop a public persona. The age of mystique is over, my friend, they don't give you a shit anymore. Forget those VNRs (video news releases). Appear in public forums, give interviews, do interviews. You were the only brand once; now there are two.
11) Stop playing golf for the next seven months. This way you will concentrate on your core competency, which is where your bread-omlette comes from, and this way you won't meet those babus and bhadralok who want you to take a look at their son/daughter.
10) Call HR pronto and ask if they can transfer Sreenivasan Jain to, say, Srebrenica.
9) Stop making those secret trips to assorted babas and godmen. All they will help you achieve is to help you run out of your IPO money even more quickly. "But my baba has divine powers!" Maybe, but not to move TRPs.
8) Stop having yourself called "Dr Roy" on air. You may be that to your employees and colleagues, and your University, but not to viewers. Get professional. Act tough. Stop being the father-figure. The good times are over.
7) Stop all these horrific politically-correct stories. Get some spunk. Get some aggression, get some attitude into your programming. Take a stand. Take a risk. Do the unpredictable. Rock the boat.
6) Stop looking over your shoulder for what Brinda didi and Prakash baba may be saying back home. It ain't going to take you nowhere except landing you some silly award we don't much care for.
5) Get some good-looking girls and anchors who have attained you-know-what. Or else one of these days they are going to raid you for employing underage girls. But seriously if all the money in the world can't get you a Shereen Bhan, there's something terribly wrong.
4) Get some tough men and women, maybe some 24-hour journalists, maybe even a real editor, who have done real news stories in their careers. People whose faces, ugly as they may be, and people whose voices, gruff as they may be, suggest that they know what they are talking about.
3) Breaking the glass ceiling is good, but not yours! I mean, get real. Barkha Dutt is a reporter. Never was, isn't, and never will be an editor even if there are 10 more Kargils and there won't be. And hey, what the scene with Sonia Singh when even Natwar is out?
2) Get rid of all those idiotic programmes on food, schools, houses, shouses. And that bloody bakra show. Otherwise, it's you the "wise Indian viewer" (remember?) is going to make a bakra of one of these days.
1) Pitch yourself directly against Rajdeep. Make sure your face appears at least four times a week at 8 pm and three times a week at 9 pm. Yes, it means hard work, but hard work didn't kill anybody. Not at 56. Or is that 57?