13 Dec 2017
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Growing up in a tough neighbourhood

From the Editor-in-Chief’s desk…

As we celebrate our first birthday and step into our second, there is a lot to feel excited about. Our neighbourhood has changed a great deal, we have kept vigil every minute, tracked every footstep, and reported every important event in an explanatory tone.

We have grown when the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has been very active, wheeling in new regulations, some of which came when the old Congress government was in power, and some when the Narendra Modi-led BJP government took new charge.

Some have been stormy like the content aggregators’ regulation and the proposals for cross-media ownership restrictions. We have played anchor role in explaining each one of them in a simple way and analysed the impact they could have on the business environment. We even got to interview TRAI chairman Rahul Khullar.

Digitisation has been the centre stage, leaving the door open for new opportunities, and hoping that everybody would grab them. It didn’t happen that way; there were many who feared to swim. The MSO-LCO tussle is yet to end and a new one is beginning to cook between the MSOs and the broadcasters. In the midst of this haze and warfare, there have been many thorns and some progress.

We have been better positioned to narrate this tale, both inside and outside the website. Our GroundPost event calendar, organised in Phase II cities, has been a raving success. We have attracted the stalwarts in the industry to debate in these cities with the local stakeholders about issues such as billing, packaging and content deals as they seek to take India digital. The TRAI’s supportive role has gone a long way in making our events an exhilarating experience. In line with our organisational structure and our vision, we have kept our belief in substance rather than hype.

We have carried out research in each of the cities where we hosted our digital seminars. In Pune, for example, we took the industry by surprise when we revealed that DTH is ahead of cable in a city that is traditionally driven by high ARPU. Our two tent pole research efforts have been on digitisation (‘Chasing the Digitisation Rainbow’) and ad cap (‘The Ad Cap Ghost’).

In the first year of our journey, new captains have arrived. NP Singh, an old hand at Sony, has taken charge as CEO and has shown signs of controlled aggression. He has launched a movie and a Hindi general entertainment channel in his first year of rule at Sony. Siddharth Roy Kapur has taken over from Ronnie Screwvala and we expect him to make Disney more visible in the broadcasting space in terms of channel launches in future.

The older network heads have been very aggressive. Besides consolidating leadership position in most of the entertainment genres, Star India CEO Uday Shankar has bet big on sports. Promoted heavily by Star, Pro Kabaddi League promises to be a newfound success in the sporting arena but has a long way to go before it proves its mettle on the revenue front.

Punit Goenka has stabilised Zee’s entertainment business and the company has made significant progress in the year. He launched Zindagi and a new Hindi GEC is being readied for launch.

We also saw the end of MediaPro, the joint venture distribution company between Zee-Turner and Star DEN. The distribution space promises to get more interesting, after the TRAI came out with a regulation on content aggregators that diluted their role.

The ad cap terrain was exciting, though muted to some extent by court cases. The major networks are complying with the 12-minute ad cap, laying the ground for higher airtime rates in future.

For some in the industry, there have also been dark days. We have seen Raghav Bahl hand over his sprawling media empire to Mukesh Ambani-controlled Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL). Sahara founder-promoter Subrata Roy remains in jail while his media empire continues to falter.

All in all, it has been an eventful journey. The spine of our content culture has been to stay neutral and credible. For us at TelevisionPost.com, it is important that we do not lose sight of this simple message in the coming year.

Sibabrata Das