The second session of the day-long exchange4media Conclave in Mumbai on June 11 saw an intense debate on ‘Should media agencies also be media owners?’ While Shashi Sinha, CEO, Lodestar Universal, was in favour of media agencies being media owners, Ravi Kiran, CEO, Starcom MediaVest Group, South Asia was strongly against it. The session was chaired by Sandip Tarkas, President, Customer Strategy, Future Group.
The annual flagship event of the exchange4media Group, the Conclave is special this year as it marked the commencement of the Group’s 10th Anniversary celebrations. The theme for the Conclave this year was ‘Rebooting the Indian media and advertising industry’. The exchange4media Conclave 2010 was presented by Dainik Jagran. CNEB was the Associate Sponsor.
Ravi Kiran vehemently opposed the very idea of media agencies becoming media owners, while Shashi Sinha also stuck to his guns believing that this was the future. The two continued to defend their views during the question and answer round towards the end of the session, which saw audiences throw serve a volley of questions to the two speakers.
Before commencing the session, Tarkas had taken a snap poll, wherein most of the audiences polled were against the idea of media agencies also being media owners. Commencing the session, Tarkas asked the two speakers to present their views on the topic, agreeing that today things were very different from what they were earlier.
Sinha, who was in favour of media agencies becoming media owners, stated, “While this topic is debatable, the fact is that only if the media agencies are profitable will they get into this space. Today, the two broad things driving the digital space are distribution and content. I believe that in a year from now, content will play an even bigger role. If you have to evolve to the next level, you will have to play this way, and if you look at the future, the change will happen.”
Kiran, on the other hand, was firm on the point that media agencies should not attempt to be media owners. He asked the agencies to keep in mind the purpose of their business. “While stretching ones business is good, one needs to know where to draw the line so long as there is clarity of purpose. It is my belief that when we stretch our business to the extent that it overlaps with other businesses, it leads to confusion of purpose. There is purity of purpose that should be maintained. The question however is with what clarity of purpose we want to go to that future. Businesses will change, but principles do not change,” concluded Kiran.
Tarkas once again took a snap poll at the end of this session, and most of the audience continued to be of view that media agencies should not be media owners.