Points of View: Are Global TV Formats Killing Local Innovation?

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing
Last updated : September 10, 2009
The industry people believe there's nothing wrong in getting inspired and Indian creativity is not endangered by borrowed formats and concepts

With international formats ruling Indian television, is it the end of local offerings? Here is industry's take on the exciting debate between inspired creativity and indigenous, home-grown ideas.

Sunil Lulla
Director, Real Global Broadcasting

Both international formats and local innovations have their own place in television space. Home-grown shows prove to be closer to the local community, while imported formats represent a 'best-class product tweaked to be more palatable' to Indian audiences. But the adoption of popular formats is in no way contributing to the demise - or the downgrading - of local ideas.

Broadcasters such as Zee and MTV are into local innovations in a big way. Boogie Woogie has been around for almost 14 years. Regional language television in Tamil, Telugu and Kannada is home to some of the best, local, low-cost indigenous formats. But the media finds it easier to hype up something that's travelled to, say, 22 countries courtesy Google search.

Nandini Dias
Chief Operating Officer, Lodestar Universal

Not at all. On the contrary, if the programming mix has some sure-shot programmes (on the channel) that have done extremely well in the international market and - at the same time - give them steady revenues, it allows channels to innovate and experiment.

International format shows are only a small part of the total programmes on a channel. It is important to have different types of programmes running on the channel.

There is a higher propensity of metro-dwellers viewing international formats and the ratings too corroborate it. Presently, TV channels are producing a lot of programmes where they start with an idea, conceptualise and script it, look for producers and then produce it.

Ajay Bhalwankar
Programming Head, Zee TV

At the outset, with such a large number of reality and format shows on the small screen, people might have the impression that most of them are copied but it is not true. When one borrows a show it's not merely a copy of the original.

When people buy formats they are not only buying an idea but also access to the creative talent related to the concept and a rich experience of what worked - and what did not - in relation to the particular format.

Moreover, in the Indian TV space, local innovation has always been a permanent fixture. Speaking for Zee, we have hugely popular home-grown properties such as Sa Re Ga Ma Pa and Dance India Dance. In fact, Zee is selling its internally-developed formats to other countries.

Poonam Saxena
Editor, Brunch (HT)

The thought process - when it comes to reality and format shows - that prevails in the industry is: 'why reinvent the wheel when something that has been a huge hit around the globe can be picked up and tweaked to suit Indian sensibilities?'

Since, game shows and reality shows do not follow a rigid format, it is easier to pick western concepts and rope in a desi celebrity to produce an Indian version.

More imported formats are also visible because, of late, foreign production houses such as Endemol have set up shop in the country. It is natural for them to bring some of the most successful formats to India.

International shows - for many - work out to be an easy proposition to spin out talking points and generate easy buzz. But we must not lose sight of some of the successful home-grown content such as Zee's Antakshari, MTV Roadies and STAR One's Great Indian Laughter Challenge.

(Points of View (POV) is a regular column which carries opinions of industry professionals on a current topic of discussion in the advertising, media and marketing industry.)

First Published : September 10, 2009

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