Watch out, the slowdown is not over yet, cautioned industry experts at panel discussion on ‘Post Recession Strategies for Sustainability’. Presented by telecom firm SingTel in association with the Network18 Group, the event was held in the Capital on October 28, 2009 and brought together some of the best thinking hats in the industry – KPMG’s Rajesh Jain, Doordarshan’s Aruna Sharma, SingTel’s Titus Yong, Homeshop18’s Sundeep Malhotra, exchange4media Group’s Anurag Batra and Times Group’s Mohit Jain.
Discussing the health and outlook of the industry in the recessionary phase, the panelists advised media owners to stick to the fundamentals of their business and also look to developing new age content.
Moderator Rajesh Jain commenced the discussion by making a reference to the recent Bollywood release ‘Wake up Sid’, and asked the panelists to share their experiences of the slowdown period and if they felt it was over, and what had been the learnings for the industry.
Giving her point of view, Aruna Sharma, Director General, Doordarshan, said that one could not be pessimistic in their business outlook. According to her, “A long-term sustainability strategy has to be planned, such as cutting down costs and focusing on one’s USP. We need to leverage technology more effectively, besides creating a balance between commercial aspect of the current business and new media opportunities.”
Bringing in a global perspective, Titus Yong, Vice-President - SingTel Satellite, SingTel Ltd, noted, “The idea is not to stop in recession. Strategy starts with you in terms of what fundamentals you can change, like entering new markets or any other business model. Recession is still on for SingTel, but thanks to a diversified business portfolio across many markets, we are doing fine. Getting into new business streams is important.”
Taking a different view, Sundeep Malhotra, CEO, Homeshop18, maintained, “To me, there was no recession but an opportunity to cut flab, drive innovation and train ourselves better. The idea is to keep a start-up firm’s focus and attitude. Only big firms fell during the recession, the smaller ones, more or less, have survived the phase. Innovation is good, but media houses need to build their niche to be more effective.”
Commenting on Indian media’s dialysis-like dependency on ad monies, Anurag Batra, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, exchange4media Group, said, “If you live by advertising alone, you die by it; sadly, it turned true for some of us in this business. But the biggest folly most media houses committed was blindly going for valuation and growth strategy rather than building a balance between future growth areas and holding on to the present businesses. To survive in the future, media needs to move from community service to a commerce orientation.”
Quoting the famous business idiom ‘top-line is vanity, bottom-line the sanity, and cash the reality’, Mohit Jain, Director - Business & Commercial, Times Group, pointed out that media had had a bad time due to its obsession with growth, and it created an illusory sense around itself. “We need to wake up and re-base our strategies again. We have to go back to the fundamentals of productivity, cost management and leverage PPT (People, Process and Technology) effectively to achieve it,” he stressed.