Dr. Fakira Mohan Nahak
THE TELEVISION NEWS INDUSTRY IN ODISHA HAS GONE THROUGH A PROGRESSIVE JOURNEY IN THE PAST TWO DECADES. IN THIS SERIES DR. FAKIRA MOHAN NAHAK PRESENTS THE MEDIA HISTORY BLENDED WITH HIS CLOSE OBSERVATION ON THE FAST-CHANGING INDUSTRY.
After producing and broadcasting programs as a cable channel for almost nine years with the help of a group of young, energetic and enthusiastic professionals, OTV became a satellite channel. When the cable channel was in place, there was lack of proper organizational structure, planning and infrastructure.
Generally any news organization or television channel has an organizational structure in which two input and output editors work under one editor-in-chief. There is a formal system or process for gathering information, planning for the news and implementing it. Everyone’s responsibilities and tasks are predetermined. It is also decided who will go reporting for which story and which cameraperson or video journalist will go with the respective reporter.
Once a news item reaches the news desk, there is a defined system as to who gets to see it first and when the news is subsequently broadcast. But no such system was in operation in the early stages of OTV. So the journalists and other technicians of the time working on the cable could do most of the work. They could prepare themselves and prepare their own programs as and when required. It took a considerable amount of time for OTV to evolve from Ortel Communication to Odisha Television Limited as a separate company and to sort out the dysfunctional system.
When the channel authorities decided to get transformed to a satellite channel from being cable, they realised the necessity of a well organised system with proper infrastructure and adequate human resource. The only institution functioning within a well-regulated and established system at that time was ETV Oriya. Therefore, in the initial stage, OTV hired many professionals with lucrative offers from ETV spanning all the departments of television such as input, output, PCR (Production Control Room), and news anchoring. Another major reason behind such a large number of people leaving ETV together was the joy of homecoming.
Since Hyderabad was the work place for majority of the ETVians, it was natural to get excited to come back to Bhubaneswar with better perks. Apart from that, they had no other option while working in ETV as there was no other channel in Odisha where they could come and work. So when it was announced that OTV would start broadcasting in Odisha as a satellite channel, an alternative platform was opened for the Odias working in ETV in Hyderabad.
Journalists and staff members of ETV who left the channel in 2006 and joined OTV were particularly instrumental in establishing an organized system at the later channel. Many of those former ETVians are still working in OTV and have been providing their services continuously.
Mrunalkanti Nanda, a senior news presenter who joined OTV leaving ETV at that time, says that after working in a systematic, disciplined and well-organized system like ETV, it seemed a little strange at first. But gradually the system in OTV got streamlined. So there was no problem. However, it was a bit of a rough start for the anchor from ETV. Because apart from reading the regular news on TV, they sometimes had the opportunity to take a reporter’s phone in or go live.
But since OTV didn’t have many programs in the early stages, most of the time the show had to be run in studio discussions, one-to-one, or live by reporters. So the anchors, who were a little inexperienced in all these aspects, took some time in the initial stages to adapt to the system. But later they took charge of all these programs.
After becoming a satellite channel, OTV developed its own professional studio. Gradually the format of the program started to change. The reporting-based program “Sata O Mata” (Truth and Opinion), and “OTV Helpline”, a phone-in-based special program to provide assistance to the viewers gained popularity at that time. According to Mrunalkanti, in the early stages, anchors used to receive the phone calls directly.
Since the calls were not passed through the PCR, many times the audience would say something different, rude and unprofessional. The channel was also producing a feature based program – “Indradhanu”. In the initial stages of the program, the anchor was responsible for everything, from writing the script to anchoring it and sitting next to the visual editor to edit it and prepare it for broadcast.
OTV also produced a special program titled “Disha” about various problems of women and their solutions. Gayatri Mohanty, one of the senior news presenters used to present the program for quite a long time. She was also the anchor of another interview-based program called “Gapsap”.
One of the widely accepted, unique and popular programs of OTV is Janamanch. In this program, the audiences were invited to the studio and given the chance to discuss on various issues with the public representatives and experts. Even today, the program appears to be a better TRP generator.
In the early stages, the Janamach program was presented by Dayanidhi Dash, Manoranjan Mishra and later Bhabani Shankar Mahapatra managed the show. It’s indeed a milestone. The program has created its own identity and gained popularity in the state. Apart from this, Investment Guruwas also a unique program based on news, facts and discussion related to investments and stock market.
All in all, it has been the unwavering passion and unremitting efforts of many people to slowly fix an institution that was not properly organized due to severe lack of basic infrastructure, take it forward and make it the number one channel in the state in terms of popularity. In the initial stage, some of its employees said that the channel is running on God’s grace, but now in their language, OTV is the unrivalled channel in the state. We will discuss some other programs and events of OTV in the next chapter.
(Dr. Fakira Mohan Nahak is a writer and former media professional. He is currently working as the Head of the Department of University Institute of Media Studies, Chandigarh University at Mohali, Punjab. Views are Personal)
Tags: #OTVnews #TelevisionHistory #OdiaNewsStory #OdishaNews