In his first address at Goafest 2014 after taking charge as Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Prakash Javadekar came across as a champion of freedom of press, co-operation between media and government, and progressive thinking in all spheres.
Immense need for advertising today
While calling Goafest an important platform for advertisers, Javadekar stressed on the immense need for advertising today. He said that not only do you need good advertising for good products, but ultimately you cannot save a bad product with good advertising. He applauded Sam Balsara and Madison World for the successful BJP campaign. “When people ask me what is the difference this time, I say the difference is leadership, because for 10 years, we saw complete absence of leadership and in the last 10 days, we are seeing complete leadership,” he said. “Another difference is that this is a government in mission mode without commission. It’s a paradigm shift in Indian politics. This time, the change agents are all sections of the society, who were polarised not on religion or caste, but between leadership and absence of leadership, between good and bad governance,” he further added.
Javadekar praised the advertising fraternity as highly creative. He wanted to know who really coined the line ‘Ab ki baar, Modi Sarkar’ and said he wanted to congratulate that person as this line has achieved the status of an iconic slogan. This has already created an impact on future voters and the youth. “That’s the magic of advertising,” he said. He asked for the advertising community’s co-operation for nation building. Stressing on the importance of messaging, Javadekar cited the example of a recent ad for World Environment Day, which had come to him for approval. He said that though the ad had good creatives, there was no real message.
“Once the government becomes bureaucratic, the mindset also becomes bureaucratic, which cannot produce a good message or innovate,” he said. “Those who are involved in the creative process of advertising, including media management, are to be lauded.” He praised Madison as they took feedback of every advertisement. “They created more than 55 ads, which is sort of a record in political advertising,” he added. He appealed to everyone that enlisting participation of all sections of society is vital to participative democracy, and particularly young creative people, who should be equal stakeholders in the government and the process of nation building.
The advertising business is at crossroads, he said. Due to low manufacturing, services suffer and therefore advertising also suffers. Freedom of expression through advertising, messaging and media and on every platform is absolutely necessary, Javadekar emphasised because right to criticism belongs to every citizen and right to dissent is the essence of democracy.
“We want to abolish permit, quota, licence raj imposed by the previous government,” Javadekar insisted. “When Atalji took over in 1998, the growth rate was 4.8 per cent, in 2004, when he exited, it was 8.4 per cent, and now it has again plummeted to 4.8 per cent. To bring the growth rate to double digits in the next couple of years, we need your participation and in that the messaging becomes important,” he said.
Ratings and regulations
Javadekar promised that before taking any decision, he will talk to all stake holders. “Ratings is an issue but when they presented the TAM issue to me, my first response was it’s a private thing. When advertisers are ready to believe in TAM, what is the government to intervene it? Then there is BARC, which is also a new experience. Market forces are about competition. There are 16 crore TV sets and 8000 TV metres. TAM has a specialised skill in marketing its own product. They market their ratings in such a way that every channel can say they are the first (albeit within certain slots!) But I believe in the open market system as it ensures fair play. If broadcasters and others are coming together to evolve a better mechanism with a better reach, it is a better option. I am ready to listen to you and I assure you I will understand and we will make an informed decision for the larger public interest,” he said. He commended ASCI for establishing self-discipline and self-regulation. “With such initiatives, there is no need for the government to intervene. We will definitely rely on you and work with you,” he added to audience applause.
Focus on DD and AIR
While addressing Goafest delegates, Javadekar mentioned that one of his priorities was to enhance the position of DD and AIR and said that he has conveyed to cable operators that although he is concerned about the problems of cable operators, he has made it clear to them that he will be receptive to their issues once they agree to carry DD in the mainline. In a media interaction after his speech he reiterated that it was imperative to make DD and All India Radio to be competitive and turn them into a high quality public broadcaster whom people prefer. They should give competition to other channels.
He also stated that his Ministry will create a social media hub, which will welcome participation from. He also said that cross media ownership is a debatable issue. It is a part of business and is a part of a democratic country. The other way of looking at it is in media if it becomes a game of two or three owners, what happens to the final media freedom. Mentioning stakes while news columns or editorials. He said, “When I was a member of the press council, we recommended about private treaty that a newspaper which is writing about a company, whether editorial, news analysis or articles, they must mention what is their stake in the company. This private treaty must be mentioned or it becomes a game of monopoly.” After seeking all views, the final call will be taken, he said.
He ended his speech by saying he loves interacting with the youth as it keeps him fresh and the dialogue that has started today will continue for years to come.
At the media interaction post speech, on speaking of Reliance taking over Network18, he said that when crony capitalism exists in the government through government action for instance in road relief or toll taxes, the government should intervene. If it’s a market function happening within a company’s own framework, it’s not a government issue. They are not taking over DD, he said. Cross media ownership is definitely a matter of debate, and we are seeking views from all but as long as it’s under a legal framework, the government has no issues, Javadekar told the media. He also said that we are speaking to all FM broadcasters and Phase III will be announced shortly. We are taking a decision on phase III and IV of digitisation and 11 crore set top boxes may be imported from China. The Ministry is considering whether to give impetus to local manufacturing of set top boxes or to import them from China.