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India-A hotbed for news channels

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“To improve is to change, to be perfect is to change often.” This quote from Winston Churchill is in my opinion the best way to describe 2013 for the Indian television market scenario and BBC Global News, the parent company of BBC World News and bbc.com.

Let’s first take a broad look at the changes in the Indian market.  While regulation forced the industry to adopt digitisation, it is commendable that the industry responded and today MSOs have had around 70 to 80 per cent success in seeding STBs in phase I and phase II. Digitisation has happened and is progressing – but at the moment that is only the technical side. Addressability remains a concern. But large changes such as this in markets as humongous and diverse as India are bound to take time. Our outlook is positive and we are hoping that once business models start to take shape, this change will be positive for all stakeholders. But there is no doubt that traditional models are being disrupted. The cable industry will have to look at differentiation, quality of service and value added services to drive revenue growth. The capacity constraint that drove carriage revenues is likely to moderate with digitization. There is demand for niche content. New launches are happening in the super-niche format. The demand for Pay-TV is growing with increase in the availability of premium content. Consumers are willing to pay for HD content. Cable operators have also started offering HD-enabled STBs.

The other major change is the pattern of consumption of content. Viewing has become personal with the consumer demanding and expecting flexibility in terms of timing, volume of content consumed and place of consumption. Increasing mobile & broadband penetrations and affordability of smarter devices are offering alternative digital distribution platforms. Consumption of live TV on-the-go and catch up TV is on the rise.  All these are very positive changes that signal well for the robust growth of the industry.

It has also been a year of evolution for BBC Global News. We moved into state of the art brand new studios in the heart of Central London in what is easily the world’s largest and most advanced newsroom. Both in anticipation and in response to audience trends, we have successfully converged our news operations to deliver the best multimedia, multi platform international news. Our improved look on TV, our website, our apps – all these make for a greatly enhanced experience for the consumer. Our new brand campaign ‘Live the Story’ is not just an advertising tool, it is an ethos for the way we approach content and we want to reinforce that message in the market. It is in recognition of this ethos that World News America received an Emmy award for “Best continuing coverage of a news story” for Ian Pannell and Paul Wood’s reports from Syria. And among our many editorial highlights was the 100 women season with Mishal Husain’s exclusive interview with Malala featuring not just on BBC World News but across all BBC platforms domestic and international. Indeed one of the catalysts for 100 Women was the Delhi gang rape attack in December last year.

It is great to see the audience responding to us. In India, BBC World News has maintained its status as the leading international English news channel among the country’s affluent, influential opinion leaders, business decision makers and frequent international travellers, according to the latest Ipsos PAX survey. BBC World News also beats India's domestic news channels to take the number one spot amongst the highly desirable, upscale audience.  BBC Global News, including BBC World News and bbc.com is the only news brand across TV, online and mobile to show quarter on quarter growth. Social media is equally important for us to improve our engagement and we continue to achieve important audience milestones on Twitter. @bbcworld now has more than 5 million followers and @bbcbreaking has passed the 8 million follower mark.

As economics and politics in India become even more interesting with the country entering election mode, we have just announced a season of programmes focusing on India to air in February 2014. India Direct will delve behind the headlines to bring audiences insight on our country as we strive to be significant player on the global stage. The India Direct season will give BBC audiences around the world the opportunity to see everyday life in India. Through programmes like Fast TrackOne Square Mile and Working Lives, the BBC's unrivalled network of journalists explore the issues faced by people here – from the economic opportunities and challenges to living life at every level of society; from its traditions and history to future plans and innovations.  We are looking forward to what promises to be a really insightful coverage of India. We also hope to bring an international perspective to the coverage of the elections. As the world focuses on India, our journalists will also showcase India to the rest of the world with our global coverage.

The world of media and journalism is very dynamic and India is a vibrant market. We believe that the changes in the media landscape are all positive; we ourselves are steadily progressing in tandem with global trends and certainly have a very positive outlook for India. We believe that the market respects and appreciates our content and that our ability to provide superior international news content on multiple platforms will differentiate us and keep us growing.

(Preet Dhupar is BBC Global News COO for India. The views expressed in the above article are the author's personal views)

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