The broadcast space is ever evolving with players today focussed not only on Hindi general entertainment, but regional content as well. With a wide array of changes being observed, and prominent networks introducing regional channels to their network bouquet, how regional content is shaping up is a much discussed topic.
Commenting on the regional content today, Gaurav Banerjee, Head, Content Engine, STAR India stated, “Today, creativity has gone national as opposed to five years ago, when there was a sentiment regarding national TV and regional content, which was assumed to be purely vernacular. The situation has undergone a phenomenal shift since. But all said and done, we need to change the perception of how the world and the advertisers view us. We get paid very low. Today, we are at the cusp of the second leap of regional entertainment except for the fact that we are not finding the funding for the same. Though consumers are watching this content and there is great creativity happening, the crux of the matter is that we are still not perceived as high SEC channels.”
Not only regional television, but the regional film business has been observed to be in a similar aituation. According to Ravi Sharma, Executive Director, Shree Venkatesh Films, there was a time when Bengali movies were limited to a certain section of the population. Today, there is a dramatic change in the way films are being made. Though the cost of production remains unmatched to that of Hindi movies, the budget now has gone up ten folds. It is also important to realise that today’s audience demands high quality content. Technology is one imperative that makes a film look nice.
Though the audience base of regional content has increased, the money still remains on the lower side. Elaborating on the evolution of regional content, Indranil Chakraborty, CEO, Big Synergy remarked, “The production house is looked as the solution provider. The challenge is to give feasible rates to the broadcasters as well as providing quality content to the viewers as well. Just like Hindi has learnt from international success, we need to have a regional strategy in place in order to reach a billion consumers. As a production house, we need to value engineer the process by cutting frills so that whatever money you spend, you can see it on the screen.”
Similarly, S Srinivasan, News Director, Puthiya Thalaimurai TV believes that though the regional market is growing, it faces challenges in terms of ownership, distribution, freedom of expression, monopolies, etc. At the end of the day, consumers go for quality and relevant stuff if given to them.
Remarking on the evolution of technology, Paulus Chau, Senior Regional Manager, AsiaSat Telecommunications stated, “Today, we have more choice due to the advancements in technology. Launch costs have dropped and hence, people can go for more and more channels. We have different satellite beams and we can help channels go across to South Asia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, and Sri Lanka, where people are paying a lot of money for such content. The customers get on our satellite to majorly fulfill their markets.”
Banerjee concluded by saying that numbers are needed to break down the mindset of the advertisers, else the myth of vernacular media will continue to exist. Also, positioning of content has to be right and the tradition of storytelling has to be kept alive. He also believes that till date, regional entertainment has survived not because of funding, but through sheer talent.
Indranil Chakraborty, Gaurav Banerjee, Paulus Chau, S Srinivasan and Ravi Sharma were expressing their views on day three of FICCI Frames 2013, held in Mumbai from May 12 to 14, 2013.