February 17, 2020
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Riz Khan

The CNN news anchor says he has brought a bit of BBC to the US network

Riz Khan
Is your knowledge about India adequate?
I do try to keep abreast. But half the feel comes from being on the ground.

Any special preparations before arriving here to present the election news?
Not really. The western media devotes little space to India. It is the EU, American politics, mad cow disease all the way. It is difficult to get specific information about India when you're outside.

What do you think of the Indian Government's refusal to let private broadcasters uplink?
It's no problem. There is much more freedom in India than in most other developing nations. True, there's a huge bureaucracy here. That's a problem.

After being with the BBC for nine years, wasn't the shift to CNN tough?
The pace, the energy, the workload was much higher at CNN. It was tough to adjust.

What did you do to tide over?
I changed my style. I had to pep up.

So you've left your BBC days far behind?
On the contrary, I've brought a bit of BBC to CNN. I am not a typical American network anchor nor am I a typical BBC presenter. I am carving out a middle ground.

How precisely does CNN differ from BBC in style and content?
BBC is 75 years old, CNN is a young operation. But it has been learning fast. CNN is a sports car while BBC is a limousine. Both do the same job but the styles are different.

Will western TV news networks ever be fully accepted in the subcontinent?
Well, both BBC and CNN still are objects of suspicion in this part of the world: there are fears that western influences are becoming strong. But this problem should sort itself out.

So you think Indian viewers are now comfortable with CNN?
CNN has an international feel. BBC recruits only British citizens though their appearances may be varied. CNN gets people from all over the world.

Your father's from Amritsar, your mother from Kathiawar, you were born in South Yemen and grew up in the UK. Is that your principal strength?
Maybe. I am a bit of an enigma for the viewers. Sometimes, I don't know what I am.

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