It has been a week since Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) broadcasters had embarked on the extreme step of discontinuing all fresh programming on their channels, stating clearly that they wanted the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) and the producers to sort out their disputes and speedily resume the normal course of work. The producers have met a few times informally over the last week, apart from addressing the press at a conference to express that they wanted all three parties – broadcasters, producers and the Federation – to get together and solve this problem. The solution, according to the producers, would mean a complete change in the content business, from what the industry currently knows it as.
The Federation and the producers are meeting again on November 17, 2008, to seek solutions on the matter, and find a way to resume work. The producers and the Federation are known to have postponed such meetings on short notice on earlier occasions. Hence, some of the industry people have not got their hopes too high yet. A production house head said, “Let us first see if the meeting happens. And if they do have the meeting, let’s see if they can come up with the solution at least this time.”
Even as there is still time for TAM Media Research to indicate the drop that the channels have seen in their viewership, aMap data has shown a significant drop in the numbers. Media observers have said that television consumption fits in the daily schedule of the average viewer, and that schedule would not change just because of lack of content. They have said that other genres would benefit from this, and some GECs themselves would get some add-on sampling in this period.
GECs’ loss, others’ gain
Sudha Natrajan, Joint President, Lintas Media Group, told exchange4media, “News, cricket and movie channels are the most relevant genres to benefit from the repeats being telecast in the GEC programming. Going by the aMap report, there is a 22 per cent drop in GECs, while the niche channels see 3 per cent growth. The Hindi movie channels have seen a 39 per cent of growth on Tuesday. Surprisingly, even news has gone down by 22 per cent, going by Tuesday’s figures, while sports have gone up 19 per cent. Even kids’ channels have climbed up.”
OMD India’s Managing Partner, Harish Shriyan, said, “Cricket has come at the right time and with a bang. The advertisers looking at GEC channels, particularly the big time advertisers, will not mind looking at cricket. News and movie channels, I believe, will benefit only to some extent. Cricket audience, however, is different, so you cannot expect a complete shift of advertisers as the audiences are different.”
Sandeep Lakhina, Managing Director, India - West and South, Starcom Worldwide, predicted, “Sports, movies and news channels are to be the major beneficiaries from the GEC repeat programmes. The other mediums like radio and the Internet may not benefit that great an extent because during primetime, people still prefer to be seated before their television sets.” Like the others, Lakhina, too, didn’t indicate on the kind of numbers that these channels have lost out every day.
Ajit Varghese, MD Maxus India brings another thought to the table. He explained, “There are two types of viewers – males and females. The male viewers have not been impacted much, however, now that the remote will stay with them for much longer, news and sports are likely to gain significantly. We expect a 25-30 per cent loss of viewers, at least in the short term, but if the current crisis continues and the shows are repeated, the impact could be greater.”
The media heads have said that they are looking for a quick solution to the matter so that the advertisers have not lost in the bargain either.
(With additional inputs from Robin Thomas)
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