Indian Media: A comprehensive and engaging introduction to the media in India

The very rapid growth in the Indian media industries and the vibrancy of India’s popular culture are making a working understanding of the Indian scene a prerequisite for any serious study of media in the twenty-first century. As one of the largest and most influential emerging economies in the world today, India now plays a crucial role in any serious discussion of social and economic change taking place at the global level. As new commercial and political alignments take shape in the face of new global circumstances, thinkers and decision-makers are inexorably drawn towards the reality of a new India being forged in the technological and cultural flux of global media flows.

Taking an innovative interdisciplinary approach to the complex field of Indian media and society, this book combines a rich descriptive account with critical analysis designed to engender informed debate amongst students, academics and other researchers.

Adrian Athique offers a comprehensive and engaging introduction to the media in India, situating the topic in the context of global media flows and debates. He covers the field in a way that is as clear-headed as it is clearly written. Despite unprecedented expansion of media and communication in the world’s largest democracy and one of its fastest growing economies, in international scholarship the study of media in India has rarely gone beyond tokenism. Taking a global approach to the study of Indian media, Athique’s accessible and incisive book makes a major intervention in Indian media studies and more broadly contributes to the internationalization of our field. Highly recommended.

Assessing the distinctiveness of Indian media while framing it in relation to global media practices, Adrian Athique offers an astute overview of India’s globalization by considering its media along the registers of technology, commodity, services and markets. With insights into Indian media piracy, digitality and corporate branding, this book is a welcome contribution to conversations on the centrality of media institutions in shaping heterogeneous forms of globalization around the world

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Who’s afraid of IPL? Not Hindi TV channels

Hindi television channels have geared up with new big ticket shows during the fifth season of the Indian Premier League (IPL), displaying no fear of losing their loyal audience to cricket.

Starting March 31, Star Plus is coming up with a new singing reality show “Jo Jeeta Wohi Superstar 2″, to be judged by Shaan and Shantanu Moitra and hosted by Mandira Bedi.

Sab TV has recently brought a new season of the popular “Movers & Shakers” with Shekhar Suman back to the telly world after 11 years.

Zee TV is set to launch the kids’ reality show ”

television

television (Photo credit: jeevs)

” and fiction show “Phir Subah Hogi“, while Colors too has two new shows on board — a social thriller “Chhal – Sheh Aur Maat”, which went on air Monday, and “Kairi – Rishta Khatta Meetha”, which will be telecast starting April.

The channels feel their core audience will remain unaffected during IPL, which will kickstart in April on Set MAX.

“We reckon there is a loyal audience for cricket just as for entertainment channels and don’t see a huge overlap of the two. Moreover, if the content and concept of a show are strong, the audiences will continue to watch their favourite shows over IPL,” said Prashaant Bhatt, head of fiction, Colors.

New shows are still being launched to grab eyeballs, but Bhatt argues: “We don’t plan to launch a show or postpone the launch because of IPL. Our programming line-up and launch plans are thought through months in advance keeping in mind the audience viewing preferences and content requirements of the channel.

“A lot of research goes into the decision of when is the right time to launch a particular show. With ‘Kairi’, it was just the right time to launch a new show as part of our new programme lineup.”

He has the same opinion about including high points in on-going shows.

“High points are planned as per the story’s progression and not merely to grab eyeballs. If the story demands a high point during IPL, we will go ahead and execute it,” said Bhatt.

According to Ajay Bhalwankar, programming head, Zee TV, IPL is usual competition.

“We had launched a big show like ‘Agle Janam Mohe Bitiya Hi Kijo’ during a previous season of IPL and the show was appreciated by the audience.

“So this year, we are launching two major shows – ‘Dance India Dance L’il Masters 2′ in the non-fiction segment and ‘Phir Subah Hogi’ in the fiction space as we believe good content will always be a winner,” said Bhalwankar.

Danish Khan, marketing head, Sony Entertainment Television, says there are no immediate plans to launch new shows, and since “IPL will be on air on a sister channel”, there is no such concern.

Meanwhile, Set MAX has big plans to market the IPL. The channel has rolled out a special communication campaign — “Aisa Mauka Aur Kahan Milega” to get maximum viewership this season.

The fifth season of IPL will feature 76 matches over a period of 54 days in the months of April and May. Nine teams are participating in the cricket league and, of course, the channel is expecting good ratings.

“With this campaign, we want to bring alive the obsession and passion of IPL, which brings people together across the country with their friends and families, to enjoy the biggest extravaganza on Indian television. We look forward to yet another record-breaking edition of the DLF IPL this year,” said Gaurav Seth, senior vice president (Marketing and Communications), MAX.

Indian print media still has time before negative trend starts: N Ram

Newspaper "gone to the Web."

Newspaper "gone to the Web." (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

MUMBAI: The Indian print market is different from the west and is still showing growth in readership unlike many matured markets where digital growth is affecting readership. India has a ‘new kind of advantage’ as readership is still growing.

However, even if the media here is growing, it can’t afford to be complacent about the timing because India could head towards “a mature market-like situation”. These were the thoughts of The Hindu former editor-in-chief N Ram, who was delivering a keynote at the third day of global media convention Ficci Frames 2012.

Throwing a word of caution, Ram said that in 3 to 7 years, Indian print would start suffering the same fate as that of the US.

Citing the example of matured markets, Ram said that newspapers and broadcast are in “irreversible decline” mode and there is “anxiety and gloom”.

Ram was talking on ‘Building Deeper Reader Engagement- Sustaining Long Term Newspaper Loyalty over Regions’. He said that in the mature markets, news media is in crisis because of a decline in the circulation as more people are embracing digital. Even in the broadcast media the dominant players are witnessing sharp decline, he said.

However, India has a different advantage, said Ram while outlining the “Two Media World Phenomenon”. He said that regional languages and Hindi newspapers are seeing increase in their circulation. He was optimistic that the medium term prospects for the media industry are looking good.

He stressed on the need of building the bond of trust with the readers, which according to Ram can engage the readers to sustain their loyalty.

Ram said that the most important thing is to stick to the basic principles of journalism – context, accuracy, perspective, fact checking and verification. This, according to him, is imperative in building a relationship with the readers.

Ram said that “trust is the key to good journalism”. He emphasised on the need for a brand to be clear about its identity, core values and focus without imitating anybody else.

He also warned against “editorialising in the guise of news” and said that the readers want shorter articles and more analyses and editorial content and views, especially in the digital viewing context.

Talking about digital, Ram said that the time is more challenging and exciting than ever before. Increasing popularity of the digital media will hurt circulation.

Terming it as a “Digital Age Paradox”, Ram said that the newspapers are witnessing increase in readership of their online editions. However, there is no business model.

Ram said that the revenue model has not been evolved for the digital yet and so it will not replace the old revenue model of the newspapers any time soon. In the digital era, a major share of the revenue goes to the search engines like Google and content providers like iPad apps.

This, he said, is squeezing the newspapers’ revenue, as they have to subsidise digital journalism, which is cannibalising their circulation.

SWEATING: The great Indian media story !!!

What is wrong with Indian television companies?

Despite alliances, joint ventures and other alliances, matters haven’t improved for India’s media companies. These ‘glamour stocks’ have failed to live up to their investors’ expectations. It remains to be seen how digitisation will affect the industry

The FICCI KPMG 2012 report says that the Indian television sector, which is estimated to be worth Rs329 billion in 2011, is expected to grow at 17% CAGR (compounded annual growth rate) and touch Rs735 billion in 2016. A look at India’s big media companies, however, raises a fundamental question: where is the money?

A few days after the FICCI KPMG report was released, Murdoch’s News Corporation finally sold its stake in Hathway Cable & Datacom. After more than a decade’s wait, the stake was sold for just 5% more than its buying price. Stupefying as the fact is, it is hardly a standalone case. While media reports appear regularly on the great prospects for the media industry in our country, most companies have put up a dismal performance and have decimated investors’ wealth.

News Corp’s Asian Cable Systems had picked up a stake in Hathway for Rs342.72 crore in September 2000 and sold it for Rs358 crore. The return is paltry but Hathway has seen exits by its pre-IPO stakeholders like ChrysCapital—which sold its stake after the 2010 IPO earning 27% returns; and Morgan Stanley Principal Investments, which exited in 2010 too made losses. Hathway has more than Rs275 crore in debt now.

Hathway is not an exception. Den Networks has a debt of Rs156.12 crore on its books and despite a slight improvement of 4% in the December 2011 quarter, the company’s stock price has fallen 37% since its listing in November 2009.

Television channels have seen a steady decline over the years. After the Zee Telefilms (now known as Zee Entertainment Enterprise) split, Zee Entertainment, Zee News and Wire and Wireless, have seen losses. Zee News has seen a 69% decline in its stock price since its debut in January 2007, and Wire and Wireless has a debt of Rs347.63 crore. Wire and Wireless was trading at Rs8.52 on 19 March 2012, having seen a spectacular decline of 93% since its debut five years ago at Rs120.8.

Zee Entertainment, is doing comparatively better—with only a 10% dip in its stock price since its listing in January 2007. Zee’s DTH wing, Dish TV has a debt of Rs1,086.26 crore and since its debut in April 2007 at Rs103.46 the stock has fallen by 48% to Rs53.5 as on 19 March, 2012.

Media companies like NDTV, TV Today and TV18 have also put up less than stellar performances. NDTV has a debt of Rs180 crore and since it got listed in May 2004, its stock has gone down by 59%. TV Today opened at Rs181.35 on BSE in January 2004. On 19 March 2012 it was trading at Rs54.90, the stock having gone down by 70%. The TV18 stock has managed to lose more in a shorter period, having plunged 72% since its debut at Rs100.33 on the BSE in February 2007. The cash-strapped company has Rs292.78 crore of debt on its books.

Network18 Media & Investments performed even less spectacularly. It debuted on the BSE in February 2007 at Rs366.75. On 19 March 2012, the stock was trading at a meagre Rs36.50, which is 90% lower than its listing price. In the last one year, as of 19 March 2011, the company’sstock price has fallen by 75%. TV18 follows closely, with a slide of 72% during the same period; and NDTV with a 40% decline in its stock price.

According to the ministry of information and broadcasting, there are 812 television channels in India, as of 29 December, 2011. Despite alliances, joint ventures and other alliances, matters haven’t improved for India’s media companies. These ‘glamour stocks’ have failed to live up to their investors’ expectations. Yet, the hype surrounding the ‘Indian media boom’ continues unabated.

Now, it remains to be seen how digitisation will affect the industry—which everyone is looking forward to.

(Courtesy: Moneylife Digital Team & Money Life, personal finance magazine by Sucheta Dalal)