News broadcasters gear up to face coronavirus challenge

  •  March 19,2020 By IndianTelevision Team

MUMBAI: Amid the coronavirus (COVID19) pandemic, news channels are facing the challenge of keeping the show running. Many of them have opted for alternative methods to not only keep employees sound and safe but also ensure that the business and credibility of the channel don't go down.

With the government urging private firms to rest 50 per cent of the workforce by giving them a work-from-home option, news channels across genre have readily accepted the module and are trying to cope with the smooth functioning of the programming of the news network.

In this regard, Times Network’s EVP & head – human resources S Srivathsan says, “Our editorial (newsrooms) teams in Mumbai and Delhi are divided into two groups, wherein one group works from office and the other works parallel from remote locations to support the newsroom function.”

In addition, to ensure the safety of our workforce across the organisation, Srivathsan adds, “For our other departments and functions, we have adopted technological services to ensure day-to-day operations are fully functional over skype, video & audio conferencing, without any disruptions.”

ABP News Network chief executive officer Avinash Pandey says: “We have a very robust and well-tested work-from-home capability, and the majority of our employees have the flexibility to work remotely. Our contingency measures for digital business and long-term resilience will ensure seamless business continuity and optimum employee productivity. This is our time to thrive and we want our advertising partners to stay invested in the news genre.”

From the first piece of information being flashed on the news channel to the final analysis of the story, many departments and people are involved to get a fast and accurate output. And, to achieve this, each member of this chain has to be on his/her toes. However, during these testing times, the channels, probably, for the very first time, are doing something that could never have been thought of before.

Srivathsan also says: “As a precautionary measure, we are encouraging our employees to make use of personal vehicles and car-pooling to minimise the use of public transport. We have also made adequate arrangements for pick-up and drop services for our staff members.”

Moreover, “We have also ensured mandatory thermal screening at our offices and provided masks, sanitizers to all our news channels on-filed reporters, who are ensuring non-stop reportage on this situation from potential high-risk areas,” he adds.

Pandey says that newsrooms might be vulnerable to this epidemic but this isn’t a first for them. "As journalists, we have always worked during strikes, natural disasters, riots, epidemics, wars, etc. We realise our sense of responsibility during these times to contribute to wider cultural currents of cosmopolitanism whilst taking the necessary precautions," he says.

“Being a responsible news organisation, we feel it’s imperative we exercise caution, increase awareness and curb fake news," says Srivathsan. “As we operate with the abridged workforce, we are committed to our employees’ safety while continuing to work collaboratively & cohesively to ensure our broadcast services remain uninterrupted.”

Echoing Srivathsan’s view, Pandey says, “At ABP News Network, it is our topmost priority to ensure that the viewers are apprised at all times, while also safeguarding the health of our employees.

The novel coronavirus that has first appeared in the Wuhan city of China has spread over 100 countries. At least three succumbed to the infection and over 150 positive cases have been confirmed in various states of India.