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How often do we pause and ponder about industry issues that have a bearing beyond just our rigmaroles? Share insights that can further the common understanding? Or, at the very least, point at things that need to be set right. View Point - an exchange4media platform, will fill this void and become a source of understanding, action and perhaps some inspiration.

K-Kapoor Factory, B-Bollywood, C-Cricket…but no crorepatis!


Rakesh Khar, Programme Director, School of Communications, Jaipuria Institute of Management, Noida

‘Coming soon Indian Idol’ claimed a recent bold advertisement on the front page of a leading national daily. Another talent hunt programme from another mainline channel (Sony) attempting to hit it big. One thought the recent mega hyped talent hunt carnival on Zee TV delivered a few critical lessons to our television executives. But Sony loudly proclaims, “Our show is so entertaining that you will forget everything else.”

Aren’t all the channels looking more and more like one another? News channels say they are entertaining too; nothing wrong in that, except that they are getting too entertainment oriented. And, are not sports channels getting Bollywood bindaas? Not to be left out, even movie channels are getting sporty in giving live cricket scores! The general ‘ape syndrome’ is spreading like wild fire: business news channels have recently turned general news channels (CNBC TV 18) during evening prime time and vice versa with NDTV 24x7 turning business during daytime prime. Is it not time the network managers stood up and showed the viewer their much talked about channel differentiators?

Take, for instance, our popular twin sports platform ESPN-STAR Sports. I am sure many tuned into ESPN’s recent soft promo on latest Bollywood flick ‘Mujhe Se Shaadi Karoge’ featuring newcomer Priyanaka Chopra on its gushy Shaz and Whaz show. Like me, I am sure many viewers must have wondered why no men have till date featured on this much hyped ESPN show? Good for Ravi Shastri and company. Good for the Priyanaka Chopras of the world. Any thought for the viewer for whom cricket is like a religion?

Ravi Shastri and ESPN actually have great company on screen. The on-air flirtation (like on the Shaz and Whaz show) is a common sight. You can catch the action as you press the remote: a news anchor chasing a Mallika Sherwat or a Neha Duphia for a few salacious sound bites. Why blame cricket and Bollywood alone?

The other big obsession across channels is the crime story. Obviously our networks do not see the red alert as they go for the overkill: ‘India’s Most Wanted’, ‘India TV’s Most Wanted’ and now ‘Bengal’s Most Wanted’. K-Kyunki factory, B-Bollywood, and C-Cricket, and if one may add a SS to it: the new magic wand across screens in India is Shekhar Suman--the all-season, all-channel host on the idiot box. Too much for loud claims on originality!

The battle for the remote has perhaps taken an irreversible “me too” turn. Bold self-congratulatory announcements by ever-competing networks and broadcasters on new programmes galore but the one big show that makes networks/channels distinct has proved to be elusive. The K-soap factory is a classic example of how the TV content business, especially in the entertainment realm, in India is ironically driven by the paradigm that one size fits all. The battle for eyeballs among rival entertainment networks appears to have degenerated into a battle to bag as many K-titles as possible. The fault obviously lies more with ideas-strapped networks than with the K-factory.

The million-dollar question that one may ask now is where is the one big idea that seeks to change for better the way the television business is conducted in India? In the ever so aggressive and fierce battle for the remote, ironically, it is the remote itself that is turning yet the biggest enemy of networks unable to crack the big idea; an idea that would land them the eyeballs they so desperately seek.

Perhaps, rightly so, for after the singular success of KBC, television content has largely drawn a big blank. A decade or more of private television in India and barring a KBC -- even that was an adaptation, but it did exceedingly well -- the much acclaimed TV content success story actually lacks credibility. The general fall in TV ratings for even the topmost rated shows are a grim pointer to the reality.

The ever falling and flickering attention span of the television consumer has only added to the emerging challenges for the television business in India. There is no denying, though, that there is an appetite for quality content on the screen. What is really needed is perhaps an out-of-box thinking leading to creation of content that reignites the great eyeball rush witnessed during the KBC days. The time has come for the real Indian Idol of TV to stand up and be counted.

 
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How often do we pause and ponder about industry issues that have a bearing beyond just our rigmaroles? Share insights that can further the common understanding? Or, at the very least, point at things that need to be set right. View Point - an exchange4media platform, will fill this void and become a source of understanding, action and perhaps some inspiration.
- Swapan Seth, Co-CEO, Equus Red Cell - 12/16/2002
"I think a lot of our clients are far more inquisitive about the future of media than us media professionals..."
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Phadnis comes from Planning and Strategy background, having worked with Starcom, HTA and Rediffussion. Phadnis joined TV Audience Measurement [TAM] as Director, S-Group in early 2002 quitting Starcom as Media Director.
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An ardent bridge player, a producer, a writer and a teacher - one could go on and on about Amit Khanna. Khanna has a wide lineage- he has worked in theatre, radio, television, journalism, advertising and films. He has been on the executive committee of IBF, Indian Music Industry, and Film Federation of India. He set up Plus Channels in '90s and quit in 2000 to launch Reliance Entertainment with Reliance. Khanna the Chairman of the Convergence Committee of FICCI. And also he is the Member of the Core Group of Ministry of I&B, on GATS and Ministry of Commerce. His contributions and association is a long list.
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exchange4media has been calling me for my Viewpoint, but like a true advertising person, I have no time! So I decided to write it in sleep (if you can walk in sleep why can't you write in sleep?) If it hurts your sensibility or you disagree with my views, please disregard this as a piece of junk - because I know it is impossible to pour water in a glass full of water - to give gyan to advertising gyanis.
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