Anyone who speaks about the future of broadcasting industry states that regional markets are where the growth is. However, the panel at NewsNext 2009 that delved on ‘National Today, Regional Tomorrow’ was clear that the significance of regional markets is already here. The panel discussed on the reasons why regional was still lagging behind on counts like revenues and some of the challenges that regional players faced.
The session moderator, Spatial Access’ Meenakshi Madhvani started off by saying that regional was already here. Taking a cue from that, Saakshi TV’s Rani Reddy gave the example of Hollywood movies. She said, “There was once a time when all Hollywood movies were released only in English. Then ‘Jurassic Park’ broke away from that mould and released in Hindi. From then to now, we have come to a place where ‘Transformers’ was released in Telugu and Tamil as well.”
She further said that this was just reflective of the changes in society where people were becoming comfortable with what surrounded them. “Now, it is about my region, my language and my taste,” said Reddy. Quoting David Ogilvy, she said that this was not new wisdom. In the early Doordarshan days, there was ‘Malgudi Days’, ‘Rathachakra’ and ‘Buniyaad’ catering to different tastes, but things changed after that and everyone was focussing on national. And that has further changed and we are not only seeing a more local feel in regional channels itself, but also national channels started regional siblings.”
Adding to this, STAR News’ Kishore Ajwani brought the content perspective to the discussion, stating that in news channels, the issues could be local or regional, but news was local. For him, when one spoke about the impending advent of the regional domain, it was not just about regional language. He said, “It is not just the selection of news, but also the narrative that makes the difference.”
Madhvani raised the point here that one saw, at least in print, more revenues moving to English language media vehicles than regional, even if the numbers in the latter were higher. Given that similar trends were seen in news television as well, what was the problem that this posed to regional news channels, she asked.
Speaking as a marketer, DishTV CEO Salil Kapoor said, “India is not one country, and you need to get deep into the culture and language to be able to cater to the overall audience. The mix and overall strategy from the marketer’s viewpoint has to look at the regional angle as well. Marketers today have to work harder to make sure that the money spent sweats more, but that said, both national and regional media are co-existing.”
The panel agreed that someone from the marketing side would put money on the top players in the genre, and that was true for regional players as well. The problem really came for the laggards. Zee Business’ Chetan Sharma explained here that for Zee as a group, a significant part of the overall revenue came from regional channels. Turning the argument on its head, he questioned that if regional channels were here, then why didn’t one see more people starting off with regional and then going national. He said, “The truth of the matter is that these are two very different games and there are various factors that eventually decide where growth for a player would come from.”
Madhvani remarked that the arguments reiterated the complexity of the matter. Kapoor, however, pointed that things were not too different in the past, with the exception of the point that there just were too many choices now, for across genres and regions.
He brought in the five most talked about Cs – Carriage fees, Capital, Content, Communication, followed by Competition, which led to Consolidation.
Summing up, Madhvani said, “Regional is here to stay, but the problem is of plenty, and of not enough differentiation. Nonetheless, regional genre is seeing a robust growth in the country and is reflecting the reality that is India.”
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