Prasar Bharati Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Jawhar Sircar spoke on profitability in news business, in-depth journalism and the impact of digitisation at exchange4media’s NewsNext 2015 conference.
Sircar said volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity or ‘VUCA’ would lead the world in the 21st century. “There is no set path in the TV industry and the primary reason for VUCA is TRP,” he said.
He compared TRP with a carnivorous animal. Sircar said, “This animal blackmails everyone. At present, it is monopolising in India, but this monopoly will end shortly. Soon, we will get a more transparent industry lead body.”
He added that the game of television rating points (TRP) was becoming controversial with each passing year.
Sircar also took a dig at in-depth journalism in print and television media. He pointed out how non-researched content was being carried by both the print and TV industry. He also talked about the digitisation of news, saying that now-a-days readers looked for a story on web.
The public service broadcaster CEO pointed out that English news channels were getting innovative and doing well. However, he added that the sector enjoyed only 1-2 per cent of the country’s total viewership. Fifty-two per cent of the country belongs to LC1 and the audience are not English news viewers. He said, “India is heading towards regional news to connect with people. Concentrate on a language that you like and are fluent in.”
Talking about profits, he said there were only two-three channels that were breaking even. There are 405 registered news and current affairs channels. He said all channels could earn profits and same thing was happening with newspapers. He added, “The question of profitability arises because we don’t have the right model.”
Sircar also talked about the 24x7 news production in media. He said, “If you will make every story breaking news, there will be no non-breaking news. I would rather say there is contest between ticker and twitter, both are fighting it out.”
Talking about digitisation, Sircar said, “The first phase of digitisation took a lot of time and it didn’t perform well. Now, it has started and we are seeing DTH. The analogue is still there and I can’t understand why a country like India can’t make its own set-top boxes.”