Television

How Colors is adding 'colours' to its content

We produce over 7500 hours of original content per year only amongst the top six GECs, which by itself is a tall order, and yet we produce great shows that goes on for over five years on almost a daily basis. Internationally also shows go on for years but they are in seasons and they take a break and most of them are not daily. So to that extent, in a way we can say we create great content, especially given the budgets we operate in.

I believe that the 12 minute regulation on advertising inventory will act as the much needed catalyst for the advertising yields to go up, so I am very optimistic about the future

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At this moment, the budgets we work with is very very low for fiction shows as compared to worldwide benchmarks, and it shows in the quality of the product that goes on air. It is an chicken and egg situation, you can‘t produce high quality shows if you don‘t invest...You can‘t invest if you do not generate sufficient revenue. Right now we have too much dependency on advertising revenue, where the yield has been stagnant for years and a fair share either in increased subscription revenues or a decrease in carriage fees hasn‘t really happened yet. But with digitisation progressing and the remaining phases to be implemented soon, I believe that over the next two-three year horizon this correction is bound to take place. What it means is broadcasters will then have more money in their kitty to reinvest on quality programming, thus enriching the viewing experience multifold for the consumer. I also believe that the 12 minute regulation on advertising inventory will act as the much needed catalyst for the advertising yields to go up, so I am very optimistic about the future.

Yes we have some challenges facing the industry. There is a dearth of good script writers, most of the stories that come to us are unfortunately cut and paste jobs, either from movies or from across different shows. Original thinking is surprisingly missing. Then if you look at the comic genre, there are hardly any good comedy writers, in fact you can count them on your fingers. So either there is a genuine dearth or we haven‘t been able to scout & nurture talent as an industry. We like to work with the same people who are so overloaded with work and are unable to devote 100 per cent to one story (There ofcourse are exceptions to the rule). Production houses have become executors, the channel EP‘s take credit when a show does well but blames the production house, script writer, everyone else when the show flops. We need to move to a system where the production house takes cent per cent accountability to deliver a show and its ratings. A system where they are both incentivised and penalised for performance. The channel EP‘s must strictly supervise that all deliverables are met & quality check. The producer of the show must have a skin in the game so that they are fully involved.

Right now we have too much dependency on advertising revenue, where the yield has been stagnant for years and a fair share either in increased subscription revenues or a decrease in carriage fees hasn‘t really happened yet

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Talent is another challenge, inspite of being a country of 1.3 billion people, talent is still an issue. Again, part of the problems lies with us broadcasters, we don‘t want to experiment with new people. We want the same hosts, same judges, and are not willing to look beyond. Its a musical chair. Everyone wants to play safe. We prefer to stay in our comfort zone and we need to change this mindset.

Last year we had a list of names floating to anchor our show Jhalak Dikhhlaa Jaa. Also for the judges. My non fiction programming head and I were insistent that we needed a face that was new...Thus we got Manish Paul & see what a success he has been! We got Karan Johar again from outside the regular judges list and he has turned out to be the best judge on any TV show! His contribution to the show, like Madhuri & Remo has been enormous.

Television is a very potent medium. The beauty of TV is, you take anybody and put them on television a couple of times and they will become a celebrity. TV fiction stars are more popular than film stars even though they may not get the same adulation as a film star. But the truth is they invade millions of drawing rooms and bedrooms day in and day out 365 days of the year in the remotest parts of the country. I have had legends in the field of art and culture or even very eminent people from different walks of life wanting to meet some of the characters from their favourite shows. I have seen film actors‘ parents wanting a picture with their favourite TV star...The problem with TV stars is their life span is comparatively short and their fortunes are linked to the performance of, at most times, just one show. Once the show is successful some of them forget what got them there in the first place and there is no one to counsel them or professionally manage them. So that is another area, that we need to work on and develop as an industry.

We as a channel have taken the first step in upping the ante by announcing a high production fiction show 24 with Anil Kapoor. Sony has followed by announcing a fiction show with Amitabh Bachchan. We are happy that we have set another new trend.

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