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IMPACT Annv Spl: Television’s 7 khoon maaf

19-December-2011
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IMPACT Annv Spl: Television’s 7 khoon maaf

Yeh dhande mein, saat khoon maaf hote hain. Ek baar nahin, baar-baar kijiye, to bhi maaf hote hain

For those not accustomed to ‘Bombay lingua-franca’, in our industry, you can get away with not just one, but seven deadly ‘crimes’. Or simply put, make seven mistakes (even repeat the same ones) and still expect to be forgiven for them.

Khoon # 1: Duniya ka Fault Hai:
It does not matter if the product was not tested. The audience was unknown. The proposition was fuzzy. Flop hua to duniya pe blame. Sitaro ko blame karo. Cable-walle par blame dalo. Advertising agency ko gaali do. Apne maalik ka naam liyo…TRP ko blame karo, aur phir se. Mein sahi, baas yeh duniya hai rangeen. We have not learnt to say, I was wrong. I did not test the proposition. I followed blindly, led by other blind mice. Not my fault, yeh duniya ka fault hai, mera nahin! Be the change we want to be.

Khoon # 2: Kahani Mein Twist:
Haar kahani mein twist hai. Tumhare paas bahu hai, mere paas bhi bahu hai. Meri beti apahij hai, uski bhi apahij hai. Mere saas chillati hai, uski bhi saas chillati hai. Uske paas superstar hai, mere paas bhi superstar hai. Mere reality show mein kapde kum, ladki jyaada... ab kya kahen... uske paas bhi wahi hai. Magar viewer ke paas remote hai... yehi ek twist hai, channel badli karo. Viewer ke paas kahin mein twist hai – remote ka twist. Think of the millions spent for the best every evening at the very same 9 pm, of mine, yours, theirs and ours. If we do not change the story, someone else will.

Khoon # 3: Thoda Neeche Karo:
Kya hai na, aaj kal, mein ne suna hai, recession phir se aane wala hai, IMPACT mein padha. To mein ne, thoda price giraya. I heard the noise, of an impending recession (was it in Greece?) so I dropped the price.

Why take the time to reinvest in the product, why build the brand, why not sharpen the distribution, why not ally and create a new frontier... all too complex and requires thinking, effort and energy. Simply drop the price, open the inventory. Its Diwali... band bajao... khud ki!

Khoon # 4: Singdana (peanuts) cost more:
There was a time, when we counted under 20 million TV homes; then 28 million, then 40... whoosh 80 million and now 140 million... Wow! what a growth… amazing! In each home (average of four) they spend 2.5 hours each day, glued to TV… for a mere Rs 150 to Rs 200…
Do the math – television is an awesome industry – it costs the Sharma family 50p per person per hour to enjoy what we think is a Rs 35,000 crore industry. That’s big?! No wonder even peanuts cost more today… someone has got the smarter deal.

Khoon # 5: Investor aa raha hai:
Elections aa rahe hain. Ek naya channel kholo… awaz banao, story todo.
Har ghar mein break karo, jitna paisa lage, lagao… valuation badhega. Aaya ram, gaya ram... paise ka ram ram.

Investors too have a remote, my dear.
Profitability is the charm… baaki saab haraam.

Khoon # 6: The Frog Well:
Arre mein upar. Oye – tu kaise upar aaya. Koi ise neeche la please... haan abhi hum saath saath hain… Neeche! Not TV industry, the Frog-Well. An economic cause changes an industry. Not today, not tomorrow, but forever. From Rs 35,000 crore to Rs 350,000 crore. Is there a vision? Will 600 channels be enough or too few? Will 300 million homes be adequate or too many? Why think... in a blink goes ahead one frog, pull him down, pull him down. There is no tomorrow. It was yesterday.

Khoon # 7: Asha, Umang aur Hope:
Jab tak hain jaan mein nachoongi… This is the dhun we need to change and reverse all the other ‘khoons’… This is one which is still left uncommitted. Hope, it’s always waiting, to change tomorrow, forever.

(Views personal. Stated in levity and with due apologies for borrowing the title and taking potshots at an industry I have come to learn, love, grow and enjoy)

(Sunil Lulla is Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer, Times Television Network.)

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