The year 2009, despite all its rough twists and turns, still managed to go down as an eventful year for the Indian media and advertising industry. The kneejerk reactions that were taken by many companies to the economic slowdown in 2008 was either changing or becoming an accepted order of the day – normalcy in that sense, though with a different definition, was the order of the day. It was Dinesh Rathore from Mediavest Worldwide, who had put it succinctly in a conversation with me once that ‘caution is the new normal’. The good thing – at least 2009 was beginning to be normal again.
For exchange4media, it was another year of recognition and a year of being present on various international forums to cover the Indian perspective on the global media landscape or the global perspective on India. CASBAA was one such forum and the discussions there, though limited to Pay TV, were both invigorating and reiterating of the role that India is expected to play in the global scene. For me personally, it was a high of a different kind when Subhash Chandra, who was honoured at the event, referred to exchange4media in his conversation with Steve Marcopoto.
And the conversation with Bernhard Glock, in his new avatar as an entrepreneur, just added to the experience there. Just like any conversation with him, the P&G pitch report carried in impact magazine in 2008 was discussed again, and again we did not tell him the various sources behind that report, and again he complimented us for the kind of work that the Group was doing. Always good to hear such things – we know we must be doing something right.
Looking back, just about every big development of the industry brings back some fine memories. The exchange4media Group was the first to break the news of the NRS-IRS merger. That said, at least Bharat Kapadia won’t let me forget that we had also reported that Hansa Research was going the NRS way. Yes Bharat Bhai, that, in fact, didn’t happen, but who knows what would have happened had the NRS-IRS merger not taken place.
When we had first reported in June 2009 that Time Warner was in conversation with NDTV for NDTV Imagine, many from the industry thought it was a laugh – NDTV was in a steady relation with NBC at the time and Time Warner’s broadcasting arm Turner had a relation with Alva Brothers for Real. A few months later, all kinds of speculation were floating on the subject, and well, the conversations were not so funny anymore – the deal clinched, now we are also looking forward to what this new partnership brings.
The one report, however, that I will remember from this year was the STAR India restructuring and the change in powers that the restructuring had meant for Uday Shankar. Shankar stays high in my list of Indian media professionals that make an impact on our industry and even on what India stands for in the international scene. Much has been written and said against STAR in the year gone by, but with my limited knowledge and view of the industry, STAR still knows what it is doing. Colors and Zee are formidable opponents, but if there is anyone who knows how to throw the ball out of the park, just when everyone is concentrating on the pitch, it is Uday Shankar. So that, and what dear Rajesh Kamat does this year, knowing that all eyes are on him more than ever before, are other areas that I am watching out for in the year.
The last thing on the list that has kept me eager to get the ball rolling in the New Year is the Unilever pitch and the manifestation of the impact of Nokia and Vodafone global pitches. It was interesting how the trade media published different versions of the development on Nokia and Vodafone and 2010 will clinch the ending once and for all.
So, there goes the list of my personal watch-out for, and needless to say, some of the areas that we would be writing more on in the year to come... In the meanwhile, Happy New Year!
(And for our readers to know, these musings do not end with the year – these notes from the Diary would be a weekly feature on exchange4media.com every Monday, beginning January 4, 2010. For feedbacks, comments or just ‘exchanging notes’, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.)