The year 2009 has been one of the toughest years for the media and advertising industry. The downturn has dealt a serious blow to many bringing about lay-offs and salary cuts and shut downs. While several media companies resorted to various cost cutting measures to stay afloat, others bucked the downturn trend successfully by going ahead with their planned launches.
Down South, compared to 2008, the year 2009 has been a very lackluster year with relatively few new launches and only a handful a media companies going ahead with their hiring and expansion plans. Among these were the Malayala Manorama Group, which put on hold its GEC and youth channel launch plans, as well as several other national players.
On the contrary, notwithstanding the slowdown, it was an action-packed year for Sun Network. The South Indian media behemoth went on a hiring spree in 2009, making several key appointments. Notable among them were Ajay Vidyasagar, who was appointed as COO of Sun Network, and Sanjay Reddy, who was brought on board to head the Group’s Andhra Pradesh Television Business. These apart, Kalanithi Maran had roped in Star India executive Ravi Menon to head Sun Network’s programming in a newly-created post.
LV Navaneeth, who was heading Radio One Chennai, had joined Sun Network as Vice President. The Sun Group also forayed into movie production with Sun Pictures in 2009, besides restructuring its distribution business with the creation of two verticals – one focused on managing the South operations and the international business, and the second on expanding the Sun TV bouquet in the North, West and Eastern markets of India. The media behemoth also appointed two senior distribution professionals – Mohammed Mujeebuddin and Jawed Akthar.
As mentioned earlier, there were very few new launches down South as compared to 2008. Notable among them was Polimer TV Network, which forayed into the Tamil GEC space with Polimer TV, while Zee News Ltd launched its 24-hour Telugu news channel, Zee 24 Gantalu, on March 27, 2009.
Among others, Kalaignar TV, the DMK-owned TV channel from Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, announced the launch of Sirippoli, a 24-hour comedy channel. Raj Musix Kannada, a 24-hour TV channel devoted to Kannada music, formally went on air on March 9. The channel is part of Raj Television Network Ltd, Chennai, and this is their first foray into Karnataka. Meanwhile, Hyderabad-based Kapil Group forayed into the cluttered Telugu news space through its subsidiary company, Hyderabad Media House, and launched a 24-hour news and current affairs channel called HMTV.
It was a lackluster year for the advertising industry as well, as compared to 2008, which saw some big account movements. While big agencies were affected by the downturn, small and medium agencies, on the other hand, benefited a lot from the cost cutting measures adopted by big clients, who outsourced their work to smaller agencies.
The downturn also brought to the fore the entrepreneurial skills of several young blood of the adland. Several agency heads down South branched out on their own to start their own agencies. Advertising veteran Suresh Manian joined hands with Bimal Nair to start The Conversation Company. Similarly, Alok Kumar Ghosh, who had quit Bates141 Chennai as Senior Creative Director in August 2009, set up his own designing division called ‘The Touch - Design Factory’. Similarly, several others quit cushy, high paying jobs to start their own ventures.
On the creative business side, the year 2009 did not see much action either. However, on the media side, Mediaedge:cia lost the Henkel India account to OMD. Similarly, though Mindshare Chennai lost the coveted BSA account to Vizeum India, the agency added a whole host of clients to its kitty. It was a good year for both LMG (Bangalore and Chennai) and Lodestar in the Southern markets with both agencies adding a whole host of clients to their kitties.
The downturn has affected the newspaper industry very badly though. Till October 2008 things were alright. However, from November onwards, there was a sudden and precipitous fall in advertising. There was a 25 per cent drop in advertising across the board, according to a media owner based in Chennai. The newspaper industry did not witness much action in 2009 except The Hindu Group, which launched an edition in Kolkata. The Hindu also revamped its online edition, which was designed by Mario Garcia Jr. These apart, DNA and The Times of India completed one year in Bangalore and Chennai, respectively. The Times of India has also completed 25 years in the Bangalore market in 2009.