More the merrier could be on any side of the see-saw, depending on what it is applicable to. But in media, is more really the merrier? A panel comprising Karthi Marshan of Kotak Mahindra Bank, Rahul Dev of CNEB, Rajiv Kumar of Doordarshan, Sandeep Lakhina of Starcom MediaVest Group, Sudhir Chaudhary of Live India and Ujjawal Chaudhary of SIMC, and moderated by BV Rao discussed this at length.
The occasion was the day-long NewsNext 2009 conclave, held by the exchange4media Group in Delhi on August 26. Times Now was the main sponsor of NewsNext 2009.
Rao opened the session by stating, “More is definitely merrier because of the variety and a lot of choice that is available. With so many news channels and more coming, more the merrier is a very rhetoric question to ask.”
Karthi Marshan started out by saying that the definition of news should be altered. “We are not too many. But we are all alike and so is the case with our news media,” he noted.
Rahul Dev too felt that news media needed differentiation and hence, more the merrier was not a concept that worked in his mind. “Every market and brand has a limit to absorb and so is the news business. Watching the same thing, the consumer obviously does not see the difference,” he pointed out, and added, “The business of business is business and even though news business has been told to be different, it is still the same. Those who are strong today will not always remain strong, because there is something else that will always be more effective.”
Continuing on the same note Sandeep Lakhina said, “If I look at it from a consumer’s point of view, more is good. If I look at it from an advertising perspective, there are 100-odd channels, the number of which is growing, and so are the regional channels, which is a good sign for us. However, even though the number of channels are going up, the spends are not being realised and that is worrisome.”
According to Doordarshan’s Rajiv Kumar, “The news market is like any other product, which will find its way and will settle somewhere or the other. The more channels there are, the more we want to make them better. There is a lot of space and the population will give you the facility to work in any space, provided the content appeals to them. In the future, I see that there will be local channels in local areas. Similarly, in the FM space, it will break the barriers in a jiffy.”
Giving a different perspective, Ujjwal Chaudhary said, “There are so many channels, but the differentiator is missing out. There are five channels that can be different from each other, but after that it becomes very difficult and so similarity exists. Also, we have a lot of journalists that have come out of print and are now running television channels. Now, all of that is changing and we need more multi-media journalists.”
He further said, “We talk of convergence only in the form of technical medium. We need to think of it more as an approach than a medium.”
Sudhir Chaudhary noted that news had a thousand definitions. “Different people look at news differently, according to their preferences and so more is merrier.” On thte various issues that the broadcast industry was facing, he said, “Distribution is a major problem and no matter how good the content is, it makes no difference. Content is no more the king, distribution is.”
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