James Montgomery, Director of Digital Development, BBC News and Current Affairs, spoke to exchange4media about BBC’s digital plan and how India is emerging as one of the largest digital markets.
Speaking on the digital market scenario in India, he said, “India is one of the most dynamic and fast changing media markets in the world at the moment. And there is room for everybody since it is a growing market.”
Elaborating on how the BBC is aiming to reach to more and more people in India, he said, “The BBC has been in India for generations but it’s not the same BBC that it used to be. We still broadcast on short wave radio in Hindi in northern states and we also have a Hindi TV programme. We have websites in English and Hindi that are growing quickly now. Our Hindi website grew by 140 per cent last year and English, by 25 per cent. The digital media is at the fore front in that growth undeniably. This particularly has happened through mobile web. More and more people are using mobile phones now and India is a very good example of this growth.”
Montgomery further said that in India, the digital scenario is different as compared to the rest of the world. “There is no doubt that digital is growing but print and television share the biggest advertising pie. People still read newspapers and watch television. Readers and viewers give much preference to the traditional medium over digital,” he added.
Commenting on the rapid growth of digital media as compared to print and TV and if the traditional medium will lose out to digital, Montgomery said that newspapers in India are here to stay. “India is different from some other parts of the world such as Western Europe or the US where newspapers appear to be in quite a rapid decline in terms of circulation and as well as business. This is because the advertising money has moved to online. In India, clearly, the scenario is different. Newspapers are flourishing here and more newspapers are launching in national languages and are continuing to expand. Therefore, I don’t think that print is over yet in India or some other emerging and developing economies in the way that it has been in Western or North America particularly.”
Sharing his views on the future of news in the digital age, Montgomery said, “The future would be that all latest news and breaking news are likely to come on mobile phones from news organisation or via social media.”
On key focus areas for the BBC in India per se, Montgomery said that they plan to grow their reach and audience on the digital platform. “There is an ambition to double our international cross platform reach. News will be at the forefront of that growth and news consumed on digital will be the largest driver of that growth.
To develop this, we see options like social media, online videos and apps to generate traffic.”
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