Day 2 at FICCI Frames 2008 began with an interesting panel discussion on ‘What, Where & How: Media choices in the expanding universe’. With the exit of analog and entry of digital TV options like IPTV, HDTV, set-top boxes (STBs), DTH, digital video recorders (DVRs), video-on-demand (VOD), wireless devices, broadband video and Internet TV, new challenges and opportunities have emerged in the broadcast sector. Besides exploring these issues, the session also looked into how consumers, broadcasters and cable companies are responding to the introduction of these new technologies and which technologies and services would have the greatest impact on the future of television.
The panel was moderated by Paritosh Joshi, President, Advertising Sales and Distribution, STAR, while the panelists included Prakash Bajpai, President, Reliance Infocomm Ltd; Sujata Dev, MD and CEO, Time Broadband Services Pvt Ltd; Thierry Pasquet, Vice President, Thomson India; Pat McDougal, Senior VP, Inmarsat Europe; Dr Veena Rawat, President, Communications Research Centre, Canada; and Marcel Fenez, Global Managing Partner, Entertainment & Media Practice, PwC, Hong Kong; and, Richard Andason, former Chairman of CASBAA.
Opening the discussion, Fenez remarked, “We have so many channels at our disposal, yet we often hear people saying that ‘there is nothing to watch on television’. I fail to understand why we are so discontented even after having the best of technologies and content available to us.” He further said, “We must be careful and retain our existing customers and traditional revenue generation models along with the new emerging ones. There are people who are ready to pay for good quality content, provided it is made available to them at their convenience.”
Dr Rawat gave a few trends in digital media and developments in Canada and opened a new window towards world trends and developments. She spoke about the developments in DTH, Internet TV, mobile TV and IPTV, the challenges they faced and how new emerging mediums were gaining in popularity in Canada. She also spoke about other trends like user-generated content and multi-screen content generation.
Sujata Dev spoke about convergence and how different mediums were getting interlinked. She also highlighted the difficulties faced by companies while going for convergence. She also stressed on legitimate platforms and ethical ways of distribution of content and asked the Government to address these issues. “I think convergence of mediums would not just provide entertainment, but value added services like e-learning and video conferencing would also be good propositions for companies trying to get ahead in the rat race. This would also help grow the industry,” Dev added.
Thierry Pasquet also spoke about various definitions of convergence and how different people interpreted it. He also spoke about the various benefits of convergence of mediums, both for service providers and end consumers. “Flexibility of operators is a must and each operator must be prepared for this change. Convergence helps the consumer access services in a bundle. However, it is important for the service provider to ensure that the content is not just competitively priced but also accessible on various other mediums and platforms,” Pasquet pointed out.
Pat McDougal, spoke on how India was awaking up to mobile TV and various aspects of the new platform. “Mobile TV is not just downloading small video clips and episodes, the main challenge is to be able to convince broadcasters to get actively involved to push television on mobile TV. Ninety-eight per cent of mobile TV is downloaded through 3GM or GSM services, and this needs to be changed,” McDougal added.
The concluded on a bullish note with Richard Andason stating, “Companies need to keep consumers at the center of their business. Secondly, business models need to be designed in such a fashion that they allow flexibility and change of technology according to the changing requirements of consumers. Thirdly, flexibility of content is a must, content providers must generate content that is accessible through various mediums like IPTV, DTH, etc.”
Panelists agreed that digitalisation was the future of the Indian media and entertainment industry and that operators and service providers must be open to both convergence of content and technology.