The general entertainment channels (GECs) in Hindi speaking markets (HSM) have always been the cynosure of all media watchers. Their ratings and various ways to bolster the ratings never fail to make news. However, GECs in the Southern markets have not been idle all the while. New appointments and channel revamps have been undertaken with much gusto. So are these just routine activities or there is more to what meets the eye?
Some of the recent activities include: appointment of Ajay Vidyasagar as Chief Operating Officer of Sun TV. Vidyasagar was earlier with STAR India. Following restructuring in Zee South, Sanjay Reddy has been elevated as Chief Operations Officer for the Zee South channels. Also, Prem Menon has been appointed as Business Head of Zee Tamil; J Shekar and Anuradha Gudur as Business Heads of Zee Kannada and Zee Telugu, respectively. The restructuring exercise also saw L Sivananda taking over as Head of South Finance. Similarly, Anup Chandrasekharan, who was the Business Head for Zee Kannada, moved as COO for Suvarna, which comes under the stable of the Star-Jupiter JV.
Jagdish Kumar, President-South India, STAR India, which recently entered the Southern market with a JV with Jupiter Entertainment Ventures to form Star Jupiter Entertainment Television, had explained earlier that STAR had been guilty of ignoring the South market, but with this JV, they were here to make amends. Talking about their plans for their Kannada GEC, Suvarna, Kumar said, “We are looking at revamping the shows. Though the prevalent local flavour will very much drive the channel, but we will try to bring in elements that will give it an identity of resembling a national network. Needless to say, for such plans one needs to put a right team in place, which we have managed to do.”
Talking about the Southern market, Sanjay Reddy, COO, Zee South channels, said, “The CNS penetration in South India comprises 40 per cent of the total all India CNS homes, hence its natural that one looks at this part because of its potential. Till now, the national players have focused on the HSM market, but to balance their business, one needs to look towards South. For advertisers, too, regional focus is important, and South Indian channels cannot be ignored by them. For Zee, we’ve had our regional channels in Bengali and Marathi doing very well for us and we look at creating the same magic in South too.”
According to Kajal Malik, Vice-President, Lintas Media Group, “There has always been action in the GEC segment among the Southern channels. STAR Jupiter has been a big initiative, and I think many appointments that one is talking about could be a reaction to this. It is only natural that when a big player enters a market, competition becomes alert and takes some preventive action. It remains to be seen how the game changes in the GECs in this market, which has a clear leader in Sun Network.”
On the other hand, Anil Sathiraju, Business Director - South, Mudra Connext, remarked, “In my opinion, the GEC segment in South is already stagnated with no scope for a new player, be it in Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and also Karnataka, where the leader is way ahead of rest of the competition. My point is that what will a new player do in this market, which has not been done before? I believe the leader becomes only better when a challenger comes. But yes, one thing that stands corrected is that with reputed names joining the regional network, one can say that regional channels are not considered downmarket anymore.”