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Media cos give the edge to India over China

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SINGAPORE: India vs China! That was the theme of one of the sessions at the Asia Television Forum. And guess what? It was India that came out with flying colours as the market thats working for media companies.

Panelists were clear in their opinion that India is amore media friendly market. As expected.

CNBC senior executive VP distribution and channel strategy Greg Creevey said, "India is fertile ground. There are lower barriers to entry. Even if the regulatory environment is chaotic, it can work in your favour. You can define your strategy better. The advantage with India is that it is market lead and not government lead."

Wuhan TV CEO Liu Fei, was almost apologetic about the fact that even large foreign media companies have failed to make a profit in China. "I know it is a difficult market But you cant ignore it."

Beijing TV director Chen Hu pointed out that China offers lots of opportunities for companies which are willing to look at the medium to long term time frame. According to Odyssey Media Investment chairman Rowan Simmons the 2008 Olympics in China are going to spark off a media boom for Chinese media. "Already several international companies are planning documentatries on China as a run up to the Olympics. And these are huge budget ones. China is in for a media explosion."

He pointed out that you cannot but be in China. "1.3 billion people, A 9.5 billion dollar TV advertising market. 190 million C&S homes. 300 million mobile phone users. 30 million broadband consumers. Can it get any more attractive?" He added that there is demand for TV Dramas, Documentaries and formats in China.

However SET India vice-president Sunil Lulla stated that it is Indias has lower C&S numbers that are making it more attractive. "We have 250 million homes and only 40 million of them are on cable. That is a tremendous opportunity," he elucidated.

"Today TV is a necessity. Earlier it was not so," he added. "Anyone coming in will probably follow the following model. At least we have historical evidence to show it., First year, you will enter, the second year you will restructure and by the fifth year, you will be in the black. But you need to understand the Indian viewer.

"TV accounts for 70 per cent of the entertainment industrys revenues in India," Lulla opined. "But it is films that drive international perceptions. This is ironical."

Dish TV chief Sunil Khanna pointed out that the lack of regulation in India cannot go on forever in the area of television. "It has been a free for all so far. But this cannot continue for long. The Indian regulators are slow to move, but they are very sure. In the next few weeks I expect to see a downlinking policy coming in place, a digitization policy for cable. This will help bring a lot more sanity in the cable and satellite business in India."

CO-PRODUCTION STRATEGIES

What is the ideal strategy if international companies want to get into coproductions in India? What works? What has the experience been so far?

SET India programming head Tarun Katial provided some insights to this in a session on coproductions at the ATF forum here in Singapore Shangri- La Hotel.

You need to bring in different interest groups with different skill sets. Indian Idol is a striking example., Katial said.

We have Sony Entertainment as the broadcaster providing the platform to showcase Indian Idol. It financed Indian Idol and creatively led it. Miditech brought in the experience it has with reality show. Optimystix has worked for years on studio-based format shows. They brought in that richness.And Fremantle, which licensed the format to us, well it has several years of knowledge creating successful programming worldwide. They all brought different skill sets to the table. You put them together, and you have a show like Indian Idol which gets amazing ratings for Sony.

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