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Industry: Television Feature


5 minute interview: Sky News presenter Anjali Rao
10th November, 2005



For news channel addicts like most of the AIM team, Anjali Rao has burst on to television screens last year with a splash that has not gone unnoticed.

With her move to Sky News and now regular appearances on Five News (also produced by Sky), she is becoming a well recognised face in the UK.

The sink-or-swim environment of 24 hour news is not easy to negotiate. Peter Preston in the Guardian pointed out earlier this week that black and Asian women were increasingly being made news presenters to give the 'right message' of a modern multi-ethnic environment.

But that does not take into account their professional achievements. Rao moved to the UK after successful stints in Australia and Hong Kong, where she was raised.

In May 2004, she won the Amnesty International Human Rights Press Award for a Focus Asia report titled 'Toxic Trail', which centred on the plight of locals in Kasaragod, northern Kerala: an area which has been deluged for 20 years with a highly poisonous pesticide to protect its cashew crop.

The majority of residents there are physically deformed, mentally retarded or have cancer.

Coming from the other side of the world, she has had to quickly immerse herself in British political news. "I read alot of analysis and op-ed pieces in the daily papers to get a rounded overview of the goings on inside the corridors of power," she says.

"But," she adds, "what I love reading about is the lighter stuff - showbiz, lifestyle and human interest are more my speed."

Anjali seems very friendly and approachable, and happily agreed to an interview when asked.

After a degree in Sociology and Media Studies at London's City university, she returned to Hong Kong and started an internship at the local network Wharf Cable News. She stayed there to become a full-time reporter and eventually hosted the weekly showbiz programme.

She moved to Australia for a short period, doing a stint as a reporter for Channel 7's nightly current affairs show, Today Tonight, before being snapped up by Rupert Murdoch's Star News Asia. There she was The Principal presenter and reporter for its acclaimed current affairs programme, Focus Asia.

"There wasn't anything for me to progress to," she says, "so when I decided the time was right for me to move on, Sky was on the look out for someone with my background and credentials."

She made the move to the UK after three and a half years at Star, starting as a presenter on Sky News in July last year.

"When I arrived at Sky, I did the overnight shifts which were great for acquiring the requisite experience and the 'Sky style'. Thankfully though, I was weaned off of them within 2 months when Sky began to use me on the daytime shows which I now do almost exclusively."

She has been presenting news for Five from the beginning of this year and says ultimately she'd like to mix hard news presenting with hosting more entertainment-based shows.

But the young presenter, who enjoys Muay Thai kick-boxing and tennis away from the studio, says she still loves Hong-Kong.

"London is great. A vibrant, fabulous city - and as we've recently seen, an incredibly resilient city. But, I've had pretty much my entire life in Hong Kong and I imagine that I will always see it as home.

"A BBC News executive said to me recently that anyone who can be successful at Sky News can be successful at any network in the world. Knowing the intense and fast-paced nature of Sky News, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if that's true."




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