TAM Media Research organised a TAM Educate Seminar – Blink in Mumbai on August 26, which focused on ‘Conquering the digital frontier’. The event also saw a panel discussion
comprising members of the digital, broadcasting and cable industry – Bharat Kumar Ranga, President-International Business, Zee Entertainment Enterprise Ltd; K Jayaraman, MD and CEO, Hathway Cable and Datacom Pvt Ltd; Jagjit Singh Kohli, CEO and MD, Digicable Network India Pvt Ltd; Dheeraj Kumar, Chairman and Managing Director, Creative Eye Ltd; Peter Mukerjea, Chairman and CSO, INX Media; and Paritosh Joshi, President, Star India.
The panel discussion was moderated by Amit Agnihotri, Co-founder and Editorial Director, exchange4media Group, who begun by saying, “The objective of the panel discussion is to try and look into the future and see what is the interpretation and impact of all the figures revealed at the event. We will seek to find out whether the industry is ready to take on the digital era.”
Paritosh Joshi was all for digital when he said, “I am a great believer in digital and it has been inevitable all this while. Star happens to be the first to begin broadcasting digital. Digital is where the future is and we are definitely enthused about it, but we don’t just rely on the numbers as we may have some mixed up causes and effects.”
Having a different take, Bharat Kumar Ranga said, “There is a lot to learn from these figures. However, we are not clear of the positions and how to price our content. There will be huge opportunities that will exist when the market goes digital.”
Peter Mukerjea noted, “The very fact that there is a measurement in the digital platform is in itself a very good thing. At the end of the day, it is all about monetising the households.”
In the second round of the panel discussion, Agnihotri turned the discussion towards digital cable losing out to DTH and how the panelists responded to them.
Jagjit Singh Kohli felt it would be premature to compare the numbers of DTH and digital cable as the latter was not available to quite some viewers, whereas the digital platforms were available across all platforms. He further said, “DTH is just on the threshold of a revolution, which will surprise most people on digital cable. Therefore, this comparison is inappropriate. Digital is the future, there is still space for cable operators and the growth of cable will get noticed with a lot of efforts made on the marketing front.”
Dheeraj Kumar asserted, “Content was and is the king and distribution is the kingdom. With this digital era there is going to be a celebration in the media industry. Digital has definitely given us a lot of opportunities in terms of quality and creativity.”
Calling for ‘azadi’ (freedom) from analog, K Jayaraman said, “The rise of DTH will only lead to consolidation of sorts, but only for companies that are progressive. There should be azadi from analog. We in the cable industry know our customers and we have our own subscribers. The kingdom should have quality and must prove that your kingdom is digital.”
When asked by Agnihotri as to what her views were on the digital cable and DTH figures released at the event, Nandini Dias, COO, Lodestar Universal, replied, “All of us realise that the Sec A is the fastest to convert to DTH and this will in a way help us. Planners will grow and it will improvise our fight with the broadcasters.”
Continuing with the panel discussion and replying to Dias’ comments, Peter Mukerjea said, “The next set of data that will come out is the people or audience viewer habits rather than just a vanilla data. The current crop of channels in cable is bound to move from analog to digital.”
Paritosh Joshi observed, “As consumers get more sophisticated, which is bound to happen, they will ask for more channels. Therefore, growth is inevitable. We have painted ourselves in certain corners that we will have to begin working on collectively.”
Summing up the discussion, Agnihotri said, “Broadcasters are geared for and applauding that digital future will give freedom for customers. DTH can celebrate as of now as the numbers are in their favour, while the cable operators say they will make a comeback soon.”