Asia has common cultural values thereby creating a huge potential for sharing of media content themselves. This is more pronounced when it comes to South Asian countries—India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan and the Maldives and also between these nations and the Southeast Asian block including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia etc.
The Ficci-Frames 2007 session on ‘Asian TV Market’ addressed a few issues like how can the trade of content be further strengthened amongst the Asian countries.
Moderating the session Content Asia Singapore editorial director Janine Stein, said all Asian countries have a common cultural background which binds the continent with a common thread through media and other sources of information.
Taking this forward and speaking on the importance of content and its use in the market, exchange4media Group publisher and editor-in-chief Anurag Batra said, “Content is reused repeatedly in different formats and mediums. As Indians, we have always looked forward to Western countries. However, we tend to forget that India has a very rich and strong base of fresh ideas and content.”
“Producers lose because they don’t have an eye to see the larger outside market and its potential. There are several instances where Indian producers have created content for foreign broadcasters and channels. Indian broadcasters and channels like SAB
TV and Sun TV have started distribution in other countries. So, all we need is proper packaging and marketing in other countries. We need to try to explore new marketing techniques to penetrate the Asian market. In spite of having common grounds and backgrounds, to sell the content we need to localise the content and adapt it to suite the local audience,” he said.
Batra also stressed on the need to create global content. According him, if Bollywood is as famous as Indian curry and this means that there is enough demand for Indian content in the global market and only packaging is what is lacking and only this can help marketers survive.
Media E2E Chief Evangelist and Chief Executive Atul Phadnis gave an overview of the new emerging market within the South Asian market. According to him, among the seven South Asian countries, India and Pakistan have a huge untapped market for television where the television penetration is just about 50 per cent. The television penetration in India is 51 per cent, it is 55 per cent in Pakistan, while it is 85 per cent in Sri Lanka, he said. He also indicated that there was a huge opportunity for Indian firms to collaborate with those in other South Asian markets in areas of content, technology, training and talent.
Indiantelevision.com founder, chief executive and editor–in–chief Anil Wanvari said, “In India, content producers do not have copyrights over their own creative content as it is with the broadcasters. And this strange phenomenon is exclusive to India alone. I just don’t understand why can’t the content producers further monetise their product through converting the content into various other formats? In India, the broadcasters rule the market which gives a limited chance for individual producers to monitor content.”
Wanvari also pointed out that producers need to retain these rights to monetise the content as well as enjoy the revenues generated by broadcasting of the same.
Asian countries have common issues and content formats like music, films and cricket appeal to all countries. There are various Indian serials dubbed into the local languages of Sri Lanka and other South Asian countries. However, government restrictions play a major role in all Asian countries which have stringent rules on foreign broadcasting companies and use of foreign content. Mediums like television and the Internet give an overview of other nations and latest market trends.
The leading Pakitani channel Geo TV president Imran Aslam also spoke about the common issues and topics which appeal to the Asian audience. Giving a simple example when his company started broadcasting content in the Asian market, he said, “We started our first musical show in Pakistan which had legends from both Indian and Pakistani music industry. This was a hit since both the countries have a rich musical culture and is also appreciated by the audiences in both sides of the border. Indian K-series are a big hit in Pakistan while a few Pakistani serials in the late 90s were adapted by Indian producers too.”
Aslam also pointed out that language is no bar since the basic cultural values are the same in every Asian country. India is becoming less of a nation and more of a global market, he said, adding “more international collaboration must take place and sports like cricket could be an ice breaker.”
As the speakers stressed on common issues, Asia Broadcast Satellite Hong Kong co–founder and chief executive Thomas Choi gave some technological insights. We are in the age of technology and there is a sudden spurt in the Asian market. According to him, cable TV operators are the winners. However the new technologies like DTH, DVB TV, digital video broadcasting and IPTV give broadcasters a new widow and markets to explore. These technologies give broadcasters an opportunity to reach out to a niche audience beyond their national geographical boundaries.
The session ended with the unanimous view that the Asian market has ample opportunities, but the marketers need to package content is a better way to survive and leave a mark in the global market.