HONG KONG: It was the turn of Paul Aiello, CEO, STAR Group, for a dialogue with Damian Grammaticas, BBC’s South Asia Correspondent, on Day 2, November 1, of CASBAA 07. Yes, there was a revolution taking place in India on the distribution front as well an explosion in technology. But content is still king for the entertainment segment, emphasised Aiello.
So how did STAR plan to align its content in such a scenario? Responded Aiello, “As the market leader, the challenge is that much higher. We cannot take growth for granted. But we are extremely relevant in the Indian market. We know we have to rejuvenate ourselves keeping the emerging competition in mind. We don’t depend on legacy.”
Following some prodding by Grammaticas, Aiello said, “In the next six months, the STAR Group will launch niche channels in India. We have plans for quite a few channel launches. There is tremendous fragmentation happening in viewership – there are millions of viewers in the regional markets and smaller towns. That is the TG we are going to now target. For instance, in the South the scope is immense. We intend to launch channels targeted at these regional markets to clock growth.”
What about regulatory issues in the various Asian markets? “As an industry we have to tackle this jointly, especially in China. We have to generate a dialogue between the industry and the regulators to arrive at a win-win scenario. But wherever we go, we enter with a long-haul mindset,” he pointed out.
Should television be looking at new ways of making money? Aiello’s immediate response was that one had to keep making great content. But he added that one had to keep plugging away at all formats – wireless, Internet, mobile, etc. He especially mentioned MySpace as a big opportunity that needed to be looked at closely.
Added Aiello, “Television is a powerful medium, but the way ahead has to be based on customised solutions for enhancing revenue generation. In India we provided such a solution to Vodafone for its rebranding campaign. They got 60-65 million viewers on a daily basis.”
What’s the biggest change he was looking at in India? “I am focussed on transformation. And there is great potential even in our core business,” he replied.
Any timeline set by his boss? Shot back Aiello, “Rupert (Murdoch) is a patient man. So I am having a blast doing what I am for the transformation of STAR.” To make things sweeter for him, he has his five-week old child to keep company!