Sangeeta Tanwar

Indian Media Business: TV industry will witness a shakeout

The Indian Media Business, authored by independent media consultant and writer, Vanita Kohli-Khandekar is a comprehensive guide for media professionals and students

Sage Publications and Bruce Clay India hosted an event in the capital on August 03 to celebrate the success of its publication, The Indian Media Business. The book, authored by independent media consultant and writer, Vanita Kohli-Khandekar is a comprehensive guide on the business, for media professionals and students.

This is the book's third edition, which was first published in 2001 with a second edition in 2006. In the latest edition, the author has updated the data and more importantly, introduced two fresh chapters, Events and Out of Home (OOH).

Indian Media Business: TV industry will witness a shakeout
Introducing the book to the audience, Uday Shankar, chief executive officer, STAR India spoke on the importance of brand building and the current state of the Indian media business.

Shankar strongly criticised the government's move to put the media sector under the scanner. He said that the government should leave regulation to the industry itself. Instead, it should concentrate on critical issues including digitalisation, on which there has been no real progress since 2003, when the issue was considered by the government for the first time.

Shankar also talked about the fact that for an industry with 100 million and more TV households, revenue of Rs 4 billion was too small.

Global Internet and marketing guru, Bruce Clay presented a case study titled, "Building a media brand with Search Engine Optimisation", which illustrated how CNN became No. 1 on Google.

Clay stated that they identified a few problem areas concerning the website, including poor "breaking news" story rankings; lost pages, poor sitemap strategy and indexing linking were some other serious issues.

Clay's team undertook the training of CNN's technical, editorial and writing staff. The results were encouraging for the website with improved page ranking, increase in traffic and more visibility for their journalists.

The case study was followed by a panel discussion on "There Is Something about News". The panel comprised Sanjay Baru, chief editor, Business Standard; G Krishnan, executive director and chief executive officer, TV Today Network and Sanjay Trehan, head, MSN India. Kohli-Khandekar moderated the discussion.

During the panel discussion, Krishnan raised the issue of high carriage and distribution costs along with rapidly increasing wages. He lamented the lack of government support. According to Krishnan, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India's (TRAI) move of putting a cap on DTH and cable fare was not justifiable, given the fact that the authorities concerned were not involved in dictating price for paper in the case of print media. There exist discrepancies in the way the print and TV industry is treated, he added, citing that there is a surcharge on advertisements on TV, unlike in print media.

Taking the debate forward, Baru expressed hope that there would be a shakeout in the TV industry, given the kind of restrictions and regulations put in place by the government.

Kohli-Khandekar focused on the importance of professionally generated content in ensuring the media industry's growth. She said that professional content was the core of the media business; thus, to survive, the industry needs to invest in professionally generated content.

To illustrate her point, the author gave the example of the success of IPL (Indian Premier League) on YouTube. IPL again was professionally generated content. According to her, if free content was what media owners want, it would be difficult surviving on advertising revenue alone.

Another panellist, Trehan emphasised that the industry ended up talking about regulatory measures from mainstream media's perspective alone, overlooking the realities of the internet.

He said, "In case of internet, consumer is the content creator, and regulation as such is a traditional way of looking at this new media. One has to realise that the consumer is not a moron; and he or she will not accept anything and everything that is put up in the name of information or news. They should be left alone to make an informed choice."

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