Post-COVID will be best opportunity for the industry to do a complete pivot: Uday Shankar

The Star India Chairman said that print, television and digital depending too much on advertising keeps the media from building a direct relationship with the customers, and that needs to change

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Updated: Jul 8, 2020 8:29 AM
Uday Shankar

While the media and entertainment industry has taken a huge hit in the wake of the global health crisis, the industry is also held back by other pertinent issues that need to be taken care off. According to Uday Shankar, senior vice president FICCI, president, The Walt Disney Company, Asia Pacific and Chairman, Star and Disney; disproportionate dependence on advertising for instance is a bigger setback that those faced during the pandemic.

“I think all the setbacks that we are facing due to the pandemic are temporary and we can easily overcome them. We are ready to make the next big leap but for that, a few things need to change and I think the next few years we should focus on how to change all of that,” said Shankar.

The way in which print, television and now digital is dependent on advertising it keeps the media from building a direct relationship with the customers.

“Whether it is newspapers and magazines or TV or whether it is other forms of content delivery, globally they have benefited from building a direct to consumer relationship where the consumer pays for the product. In India we decided to be short sighted and we decided to subsidize our products for the consumer and, and get the money from the advertiser. That has become a very big setback for the industry. And if this industry has to grow to the next level, the one thing that must be fixed is our ability and our desire to get people to pay for what they consume because that's the only way the industry can grow,” said Shankar.

According to Shankar, even as print and films are doing great in the country there is a lot more that can be done.

“We should be doing a lot better. Our ambitions in the area of content remain really very small. We are very happy winning t TRP or box office warns. The content business has gone truly global and the opportunity to scale it up is much bigger today. What is worse is that we have also actually been even more short sighted and gone and worked with agencies like regulators and other competitors to create hurdles in the way of unlocking the power of the business. As a result of that, we have not been able to invest in content,” he said.

Smaller countries like South Korea, Israel, Turkey and others according to Shankar have bigger media businesses with their content travelling globally.

“Indian content, let us face it still doesn't travel globally; the films do not travel globally. Television content doesn't travel globally and this is not for lack of creativity. This is only because of our smaller ambitions and short sightedness; I think the industry should fix that. Unless we start becoming a bigger player in the global content consumption space, the business will always be suboptimal. And finally, for an industry that's growing at this rate, we have to we have to expand and create the talent funnel,” Shankar said.

Shankar urges the government to recognize the sector as an important part of the economy that can create jobs, businesses, wealth and can also create the soft power lead to a greater and more shiny brand India globally.

“Media as of today only plays a marginal role in the Indian economy and that has hurt the country and that has hurt the brand of the country globally. I think it's time that we started fixing that. And when we look to come out of the Covid crisis it will probably be the best opportunity to do a complete pivot and start thinking about the sector,” Shankar said.

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