“People have been asking whether we are buying Sun TV. But Sun has made it very clear that they are not interested in selling. I respect them immensely. Kalanithi Maran has created a really good franchise. They made it very clear they are not sellers, so the question of buying is not there. And even otherwise, I would shy away from buying them because If I were to take over, I would not be able to keep the value that they have created,” said Chairman of Essel Group and Zee, Dr Subhash Chandra speaking on whether Zee is going to acquire Sun TV. Dr Chandra was speaking at a select media gathering.
Some excerpts from a Q & A
Why are so many news channels and publications showing low revenue?
Because there are too many of them. If you’re selling ad space at low rates how much money can you make? Even credible channels are selling at low rates and that is why they are in trouble.
Have there been any new business acquisitions with Zee?
Last month we took up a small Oriya channel. We are keen to enlarge our portfolio of regional channels. We are also interested in expanding our reach in print.
What is the most difficult business in media to handle?
The most difficult business in media is cognitive content; reality TV. That’s why you don’t see too many global channels offering that sort of content. Two brands that are doing well in that area are Discovery and Nat Geo.
It is the reason our health and wellness channel in USA has taken eight years to break even. It was not only about finding the right content, but also the market place makes it difficult for a newcomer to succeed.
What kind of regulation do news channels require?
I want clear cut discipline in the industry. If there is transparency in ownership, then there shouldn’t be a problem with content. The news channels together created a regulation body where anyone can file a complaint if they object to something.
In my view, self regulation is the best. Trust and transparent news will have a premium in the long run. As per existing laws today, no political parties or religious groups should own TV channels. But they do. There needs to be stricter entry checks in place for news channels.
What are some of the major concerns of media owners today?
The old rating system was a great concern. Because of it a lot of regressive programming existed in the country. I hope that will change. Now the sample size has increased and I have been told they are using the latest technologies. That should see some improvement in the quality of television.
There was talk of the government increasing the FDI caps in print and broadcast...
In entertainment it is 100 per cent allowed but for other media I don’t see any reason for it. The current FDI holdings are in place after the debate of both the houses in the Indian parliament. If they want to make changes they will have to restart the debate in the Parliament again. I’m alright even if they want 100 per cent cap. It’s about survival of the fittest.