HONG KONG: Day 3, the concluding day at CASBAA 07, was mainly about the Indian broadcast explosion. Kicking it off was Peter Mukerjea, Chief Strategy Officer, INX Media, in conversation with Damian Grammaticas, BBC’s South Asia Correspondent. So, how did it feel to have a war-chest of $300-400 million to launch your channels? Not one to be taken by surprise easily, Mukerjea shot back, “Actually it is a shade less.”
Elaborating on the strategic thinking at INX Media, Mukerjea said, “GEC is our thrust area. That is where the growth is, but it is also the most competitive. And we know that we have to be better and not just different. That is the philosophy behind our plans so far as content is concerned.” He added that in India, the woman wais the key driver behind viewership – the family revolved round the woman of the house, and she had an influence on the viewership in terms of what was viewed.
Elaborating further, Mukerjea said, “In India, family values are still very important. Any content, to be successful, has to fit the parameters of family values. And we at INX Media are going in for home-grown content as of now. This is not to say that we are not looking at relevant content from other sources – we have been scouting events like Mipcom, etc., for programmes.”
Without naming STAR, Mukerjea then delivered a punchline, “I can assure you that we will be neck and neck with foreign broadcasters.”
Taking the cue, Grammaticas tried his best to get something out of Mukerjea regarding his former employers whom he had left with a touch of controversy. Refusing to bite the bait, Mukerjea deftly sidestepped his interviewer, saying, “I learnt a lot from my long association with STAR. They have the ability to reel in top talent from all over the world. So, at INX Media too, we have brought in some excellent talent from international markets.”
There was a bit of jostling to get Mukerjea to spill the timeline to break even. At the end of it, all that Mukerjea was ready to divulge was, “The investors in INX Media are not short-term players. We have a five-year window to break even.”
But isn’t that a tall ask task in a market that already has close to a phenomenal 390-odd channels? Commented Mukerjea, “The Indian market can accommodate another 200 channels. Let us not forget that there are at least 16 languages spoken in India. If you break down the demographics, you will find that there aren’t that many channels in each of the languages. Not everything is in English or Hindi. The regional markets provide a huge scope for growth.”
The proof of the pudding lies in the eating: it is a matter of a few weeks now for the launch of the INX channels. The wait won’t be that long to see whether the golden touch that Mukerjea showed at STAR will be replicated with the INX channels.