Guest ColumnRetrofit: Delhi losing patience with Commonwealth Games…

Delhi as a metro is not big on graffiti. But lately, one sees its scrawl and the legend inscribed is worrying – Pro rich, anti poor, CWG sucks. The Commonwealth Games are barely 190 days away, but work on the stadiums is yet to be completed. Plus the Capital is a dug out zone with construction material strewn around and burdened by an inflating Games budget. Sandeep Bamzai wonders why most of the media is silent on such an important issue.

e4m by Sandeep Bamzai
Published: Mar 31, 2010 8:39 AM  | 8 min read
Guest Column<br>Retrofit: Delhi losing patience with Commonwealth Games…

Delhi as a metro is not big on graffiti. But lately, one sees its scrawl on the newly designed bus stops. The legend inscribed is worrying – Pro rich, anti poor, CWG sucks. On Sunday evening, I was part of a panel on a Hindi channel, where the subject for discussion was the very sensitive and emotional Commonwealth Games and how the city’s hoi polloi has had to bear the cross due to it. Weighed under an unprecedented price spike, the Delhi budget has come as a double whammy after the Union Budget to crimp the very existence of the metro’s denizens. A modern survival kit is a must to negotiate the minefield that the city’s rising cost of living has unleashed. There are parts of Delhi which could be used as a location for ‘Lost’. A sharp increase in VAT, LPG and diesel prices is acting as a major deterrent. While the panel degenerated into a virulent political debate since Congress and BJP leaders were present, what was scary was the level of anger displayed by the audience. The live programme saw sparks fly as people’s ‘aakrosh’ grabbed centrestage. And guess what, the Sheila Dikshit Government is paying for the inefficiencies of the Suresh Kalmadi-led Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.

While all of us are being debilitated due to the time and cost overruns of the CWG organisers, Suresh Kalmadi remains unperturbed. A Commonwealth Games infrastructure summit being held under the aegis of The Times of India in the Capital saw the ‘teflon man’ Kalmadi as always paint a pretty picture. In his inimitable carefree style, on Monday, he sought to defend delays in completion of venues, saying preparation for such a mega event is always time consuming and the country cannot present “half-cooked meals” to the world.

“We are organising a major sporting event in the country after a gap of 28 years, after Asian Games in 1982. It’s a big challenge for us. You need to present a world class event when the whole world is watching. You need to showcase everything on a large scale. You cannot serve half-cooked meal,” Kalmadi said. Mr Kalmadi, Delhi bagged the right to host the Games in Montego Bay in November 2003, eight years ago. Right now, there is a mad scramble to complete the Games infrastructure. “We are not lagging behind. All venues are ready, barring JLN stadium and Yamuna Sports Complex. The work would be over by June 30. You need to understand when a city organises any international sports event, it takes five to 10 years to prepare itself,” Kalmadi added at the summit. Yeah, sounds good. But Delhi resembles a war zone with massive dislocation of the city’s ground zero status. Its innards lie open all around. There are cranes and excavators strewn all over the city’s face.

On Tuesday morning though, a more realistic assessment came from Associated Press, which said that the Commonwealth Games buildings were running behind schedule in India on Tuesday morning. The report, which I am reproducing here, provides an honest on the ground assessment, “A countdown clock outside the Commonwealth Games offices shows 192 days left until India hosts the 17-sport event. But the city still looks like a messy construction site. The main stadium is months overdue and remains a tangle of cranes, and residents are furious over new taxes to pay for the Games. Meanwhile, dozens of construction workers have died and hundreds of thousands are labouring in unsafe conditions in the rush to prepare the city for the Games, a court-appointed investigation said.

“India hoped that by hosting athletes from the 71 countries of the Commonwealth, the former British Empire, it would boost its global image and become a contender for the Olympics. Now, with the October 3 start date approaching, many are wondering whether it’s worth it. ‘For poor people there are no benefits from all this,’ said Ramesh Dubey, a sidewalk vendor angry over a proposed hike in cooking gas taxes. ‘This whole show is by rich people and will only benefit rich people.’ Suresh Kalmadi, head of India’s organising committee, has promised that problems will be resolved. “With the support of the Governments of India and Delhi, we are doing everything to produce a great Games,” he told visiting Commonwealth delegates this month.

“Numerous hurdles remain. The main Jawaharlal Nehru stadium, which is to host the opening and closing ceremonies and the main track events, is a giant shell. Dozens of labourers ferry cement and bricks in baskets on their heads. Cranes dot the sprawling complex, and the road around it is a dug-up mound of dirt. There are similar scenes at the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee swimming complex. Both complexes were supposed to have been finished by December. “Certainly it’s cutting it very, very fine with Jawaharlal Nehru stadium and the swimming stadium,” said Mike Hooper, the CEO of the Commonwealth Games Federation, who is in New Delhi helping oversee the preparations. The stadiums are now scheduled to be finished in June.

“If they don’t adhere to these new revised deadlines, then we do have real concerns about the operational delivery and the pressure it will put on the organising committee,” Hooper told The Associated Press. Many New Delhi roads are lined with mounds of rubble, often forcing several lanes of traffic into a single, chaotic one. New construction projects crop up every few weeks. An attempt to clean up Connaught Place, a collection of colonial-era buildings at the heart of the city’s business district, has choked shops in the area.

“A once-busy book store managed by Puneet Sharma is now mostly deserted, surrounded by scaffolding and rubble that has blocked access. “They have known about the Games since 2003 and yet we were given no notice about when work would start in our area,” Sharma said. “It’s all very unplanned and haphazard.” Indian organisers insist the construction and roadwork will be wrapped up by the end of June.

“There have been some delays,” accepts Rahul Bhatnagar, a senior official from India’s Sports Ministry, who is overseeing the preparations, “but the venues will all be done well in time for the test events and the main Games.” The cash-strapped government is pumping in more money to the nearly $3 billion event. The national government said it was lending the organisers an additional $150 million to pay for fixtures and equipment required at the venues. As the government scrambled to meet the new deadlines, allegations have cropped of negligence and abuse at the building sites.

“A panel appointed by the New Delhi High Court said that at least 43 workers were killed because of dangerous work sites and a lack of proper safety gear. The report said nearly 415,000 contract workers at construction sites related to the event were not paid adequately by private contractors and were forced to work overtime for no extra money. The government says it will monitor the construction agencies to ensure all labour laws are followed.”

I am surprised that Indian media, which is preoccupied with frivolous stories, seems untouched by what is happening in the Capital. As AP says, there isn’t much time left, the race to meet the deadlines is putting added pressure on the city’s creaking infrastructure requirements. The sheer apathy towards Commonwealth infrastructure and its status is shocking. Though I did see something on roads the other day in ToI. I guess somewhere Suresh Kalmadi’s famed networking skills are showing, he has media in his corner as they turn a blind eye to what is a colossal cock up. It is clear that we have no sense of time. Look at Sreedharan’s Metro, see the pace of work and the manner in which sites are restored after the work is completed. It is a lesson for one and all. And certainly for one Mr Kalmadi, who is a smooth talker, always glibly talking his way out of trouble. But most of all, I worry about the Jawahar Lal Nehru stadium, the showpiece of the Games. I wonder whether it will be handed over after October 3… 192, 191, 190 days and counting.

(Sandeep Bamzai is a well-known journalist, who started his career as a stringer with The Statesman in Kolkata in 1984. He has held senior editorial positions in some of the biggest media houses in three different cities - Kolkata, Mumbai and New Delhi. In late 2008, he joined three old friends to launch a start-up – Sportzpower Network – which combines his two passions of business and sport. Familiar with all four media – print, television, Internet and radio, Bamzai is the author of three different books on cricket and Kashmir.
The views expressed here are of the writer’s and not those of the editors and publisher of

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Cable operators write to TRAI to push for OTT regulation: Report

TRAI is currently conduction a study on licensing OTT content and will be releasing consultation papers for the same

By exchange4media Staff | May 18, 2023 11:26 AM   |   1 min read


In a push to create a level-playing field for TV and streaming content, multiple cable operators have reportedly approached the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to regulate OTT platforms.

A news report said that cable operators approached the regulatory authority as they felt threatened by the unbridled rise of OTT players. TRAI, on its part, has yet to come to a decision and is currently conducting a study on licensing OTT content; consultation papers for the same will be released in due time.

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Shemaroo Entertainment’s revenue from operations up 46% YoY

The company has reported 94% YoY rise in EBITDA

By exchange4media Staff | May 16, 2023 12:49 PM   |   2 min read


Shemaroo Entertainment’s revenue from operations for the fiscal ended 31st March 2023 has increased by 45.9 % to Rs 556.6 crore as compared to Rs 381.4 crore in the previous fiscal ended 31st March 2022.

For the fourth quarter ended 31st March 2023, the company’s revenue surged 75.8 % to Rs 164.5 crore compared to Rs 93.6 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal.

Announcing Shemaroo Entertainment’s financial results for the fourth quarter and financial year ending 31st March 2023, the company CEO Hiren Gada said, “Considering the external economic scenario, I am very pleased with our overall performance in this financial year.”

The company’s Profit After Tax (PAT) was up by 136.5 % to Rs 4.8 crores compared to Rs 2.1 crores in the fourth quarter ended 31st March 2022.

Commenting on the results, Gada said, “We started on this journey of changing our business strategy in 2019 and against all odds and headwinds that we have faced over the last few years, we have overcome all these challenges and have been successful in meeting our strategic goals.

“We are extremely confident that the agility, strength and innovative business model, along with a professionally run organization with freshly inducted talent from the media industry, will see our company delivering strong financial performance in the coming years.”

The company also saw an annual growth of 23.3 % in digital media and 66.5 % in traditional media in the financial year ended 31st March 2023 compared to the previous fiscal.

ShemarooMe, the OTT Platform released 14 new titles during the fourth quarter ended 31st March 2023 and the general entertainment channels (GECs) recorded a viewership share of 9 % in over all Hindi GEC genre.

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Amazon lays off at least 500 in India

The departments that saw pink slips were Amazon Web Services, HR and support functions

By exchange4media Staff | May 16, 2023 11:00 AM   |   1 min read


Amazon has handed out pink slips to at least 500 employees in India, media networks have reported.

The people who have been let go were with Amazon Web Services, HR and support functions.

CEO Andy Jassy had said in April that Amazon has begun laying off employees in its advertising unit.

As per the company, it was "prioritizing resources with an eye towards maximizing benefits to customers and the long-term health of our business".

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Media houses must comply with rules with regards to organised conclaves/summits: MIB

The MIB said it has come across as a violation at a recent media event   

By exchange4media Staff | May 10, 2023 1:47 PM   |   1 min read


Noting that e-cigarettes were promoted at a business summit of a prominent media house in New Delhi, the I&B ministry said in an advisory to media houses and satellite TV channels.

The ministry has directed newspapers, private satellite TV channels, publishers of news and current affairs content on digital media and publishers of online curated content (OTT platforms) to comply with existing legal provisions while organising conclaves or summits.

“It has been brought to the notice by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that in a recently organized Business Summit in New Delhi by a prominent media house, the forum was apparently used to promote electronic cigarettes.

“Such an action was in violation of Section 4 of the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Act, 2019 which prohibits advertisements that directly or indirectly promote the use of electronic cigarettes.

“The Print, Electronic and Digital Media entities are accordingly advised to ensure that the aforementioned statute is not contravened either by way of advertisement or any promotion or other campaigns etc,” the MIB said in its advisory.

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'No medium is dead. There's opportunity for everyone'

A panel of the industry's sharpest minds convened to talk about the future of advertising at the recently held FICCI Frames 2023

By exchange4media Staff | May 5, 2023 1:40 PM   |   4 min read


An August panel at FICCI Frames 2023 deliberated on ‘What is the future of advertising?’ in a discussion featuring some of the prominent names from the Indian adland. Rana Barua, Group CEO, Havas Group India; Saurabh Saksena, CEO, VMLY&R India; Gangs T Gangadhar, Co-Founder & Group, CEO, Quotient Ventures; Rohit Gopakumar, COO, Optimal Media Solutions (Times Group); Dheeraj Sinha, CEO, Leo Burnett, South Asia & Chairman BBH India; Abe Thomas, CEO, Reliance Broadcast Network ( BIGFM). The session was moderated by Vinit Karnik, Business Head- Entertainment, Group M came together to discuss the relevancy of advertising in today’s digital era and in the future.

The talk kickstarted with a discussion of the changes that the industry saw in the last few years with the disruption of many mediums and marketing tactics along with user-generated content and influencer marketing being at its peak.

Barua of Havas said, “There are two ways to look at it. First, from our country and second, from what's happening outside India. From an Indian POV, there are dramatic changes that are happening. Cultural changes are happening in the form of mediums. Consumers are getting more powerful in terms of the entertainment or content they want to see, and norms have changed. The control is in the consumer’s hands today. Data and analytics have become very important.”

Karnik concluded Rana’s point by saying that the consumer has become the centre of all the mediums, consuming through multiple mediums like TV and digital and other traditional media. 

Saksena of VMLY&R said, “One thing that is constant is the need to be creative, platforms, mediums, and advertisers need to be creative, and this has stayed universal. Consumers have the power. Where we are today after Covid, I think Covid was the accelerator of trends - the adoption of OTT, e-commerce, etc. A lot has changed and remained constant and there is pressure on advertisers to value a consumer’s time.”

Speaking about how he sees the industry, Gangs said, “Well as long as there is a need to build brands, there will be a need for advertising. How will it look, will obviously change but the need is going to be there. Advertising should be interesting and inspiring. Earlier it used to be entertainment but it should be inspiring."

Gopakumar of Times Group spoke about print and its slow-paced growth saying, “If you see print in smaller towns is growing. Vernacular papers are coming out with their new editions. The opportunity is humongous. The audience is changing, earlier it was a need economy, and now it is a want economy. When I started it was a Rs 25,000 Crore advertising revenue. Today it is Rs 1000 crore. No medium has died. There is opportunity for everyone.”

When asked about what advice Leo Burnett gives to their clients, Sinha of Leo Burnett said, “I feel this is the best time to be in advertising and marketing. When I started, one could only play with words and images and now you can play with technology. And that’s what makes today’s world exciting. The value chain is now moving from just advertising to talking down to people and to actually solving human problems and business problems.”

The opportunity is to move up the value chain to solve problems. Because What’s lost is the entitlement that advertising had 20 years back which was playing a jingle and people watching it. Now people will choose to interact with content if it is interesting or not and, hence, the onus is on us to make the content more interesting and to solve for something that really matters in the people’s lives,” he added.

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National policy on AVGC is being finalised: Apurva Chandra

Speaking at the FICCI Frames 2023, the MIB Secretary also noted that the public broadcaster Prasar Bharati has been undergoing a transformation

By exchange4media Staff | May 4, 2023 8:33 AM   |   4 min read

apurva chandra

Apurva Chandra, Secretary, the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB), on Wednesday, said that the government was in the process of finalising the national policy on the Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comic (AVGC) sector. 

Addressing the 23rd edition of FICCI FRAMES in Mumbai, Chandra said, “After the taskforce report was formulated, it was thrown open for the stakeholders’ feedback. We have received a number of comments which are getting incorporated. Now we are in the process of finalising the core for the national policy, which will go for inter-ministerial consultation and thereafter the final policy can be announced.”

Chandra disclosed that a consultation was held with the state governments on April 20th where almost 25 state governments were represented, and wherein a draft AVGC policy was put out for the state governments in public domain. He further added that in the conclave the state governments were told what was expected of them, and their queries were addressed. 

“Now I am sure that the industry will also take it forward, while we have put it out to the state governments to frame their own policy,” the Secretary added. He also mentioned that some of the state governments like Karnataka, Telangana, and Maharashtra were ahead, as they were already doing something in terms of the AVGC policy, and it is for the others to take it ahead.

Chandra, who has also chaired the AVGC task force, said, “AVGC sector requires a cross-section of work from various ministries and various state governments, and they all have to come together, especially to meet the challenges of education and skilling.” 

With regard to skilling and education, Chandra asserted that it is the core of making skilled manpower available. “We are in touch with the education department of the government of India, as well as NCERT and all the other stakeholders such as All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) to incorporate Animation courses and Visual effect courses into school curriculums, starting from 6th grade onwards, and in the Computer Science and activities curriculum, as well as skilling later on and standardisation of the courses at Graduate level, postgraduate level and subsequently,” he added.

Chandra also touched upon the matter of having a National Centre of Excellence, which has been talked about for a long time and said that a centre might be operational in Mumbai by next year. “The National Centre of Excellence has been on the drawing board for almost 7-8 years now, but we hope now that this is the final year. There again we want to involve the private sector, and we are partnering with CII and FICCI so that it remains a private sector entity and not a government entity. So that it gives more flexibility in terms of operations, in terms of hiring of faculty and manpower, and designing the courses.” 

He further shared that the government also wants to create regional centres so that more people can be trained to meet the needs of the industry. The Secretary added that the government is in the works to set up a National Centre for Excellence operational in Mumbai by next year.

The AVGC sector in India is rapidly growing and has the potential to make India a global content leader. However, the country’s share of the AVGC global revenue today is less than 1%. With the announcement of the AVGC task force by the government, the industry has hopes that the number will improve in the coming years.

In a fireside chat with Praveen Someshwar, Co-Chair & FICCI Media & Entertainment Committee & MD & CEO, HT Media, the secy also that Prasar Bharati - the public broadcaster is undergoing a transformation, adding that over the past few years not a lot of new content has been created on Prasar Bharati.

He said, "Within this month many new serials are going to come on Prasar Bharati. It's undergoing a transformation. Infact, new films have started coming back on Prasar Bharati which were not there earlier. Regional films will also start and fresh content is also being created."
He also invited stakeholders to participate in the process of transforming Prasar Bharati. While in fact at the event, Prasar Bharati CEO Gaurav Dwivedi, said in four months time different content will be airing on Doordarshan.

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Equal representation of women behind the camera is important: Guneet Monga

In a discussion with P&G's Kainaz Gazder at #WeSeeEqual Summit, the Oscar-winning producer shared some facts about female representation in Indian media and advertising

By exchange4media Staff | May 3, 2023 5:05 PM   |   2 min read

guneet monga

There is a need to push more women behind commercials as directors, India’s First Oscar Winning Producer Guneet Monga said on Wednesday, noting that not even 5 per cent of directors in India are women.  

In a discussion with Kainaz Gazder, Senior VP, P&G Asia Middle East Africa, on the topic “Seeing is Believing: Power of Advertising and Media” at P&G’s #WeSeeEqual Summit, Monga stressed the need for women representation in media and advertising.

“I love storytelling and love the impact it can make. Equal representation of women behind the camera is important."

“Pushing more women behind the commercials is much needed. Our statistics are quite low, unfortunately. Less than 5 per cent of women are behind the cameras as directors. That just needs to change and as a producer myself, at Sikhya Entertainment, most of our stories are either led by women or are about women. It is very important to see how women are represented. It is a large part of our conversation,” she said.

During the discussion, Kainaz Gazder, Senior VP, of P&G Asia Middle East Africa, spoke about the role P&G plays in breaking gender stereotypes.

“We are P&G look at our responsibility of leveraging the voice of our brands towards equality and inclusion very seriously. We look at it like a three-fold approach. One, we make sure we have a diverse and accurate representation as we do our communication. Two, we want to leverage our voice to be a force for good. Third, we want equal representation of women behind the camera,” she said.

She said that in 2019, only 16 per cent of P&G’s production was driven by female directors and now it has grown to 35 per cent.

“We are aiming to get that to 50 per cent goal with a comprehensive set of actions to develop a pipeline of female talent in advertising media and content,” Gazder said.

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