has happened this year and yet not a lot has happened.
India TV it has been a good year. Two years ago we were number
six or seven in the news channel category, with a 5 to 6 per
cent share; today we are number three with a 17-18 per cent
The broadcasting industry has seen a huge amount of debate
and discussion on the proposed Broadcast Bill and the Content
Code. It perhaps looks to an observer like there is much heat
and no movement, but I do believe such debate and discussion
is not something that can be done in a hurry. It has very
wide implications in a country as free as India, where the
media are genuinely free.
while the arguments for and against regulation are many, the
fundamental thing is that any attempt to legislate a free
media has to be done with a great deal of care. It is at the
heart of Indian democracy. And as the world acknowledges,
we may have a myriad problems but we are a robust democracy
despite all odds: it is too valuable to risk.
the Content Code there has been a discussion for well over
a year, and the government has been open to dialogue, which
is excellent. The broadcasters have offered to create their
own Code for self-regulation.
government has welcomed the offer of the industry to develop
its own Code, as it has accepted and notified the ASCI Code
for advertising. ASCI is a voluntary body, so the government
has encouraged self-regulation, which is great.
single biggest problem in the industry today is distribution.
It is getting more and more competitive, as more and more
channels come into business. The cost is enormous and growing
wildly, and it is hurting every broadcaster from the biggest
to the smallest, FTA or pay.
this battle MSOs and LCOs point fingers at each other, but
either way it is costing the broadcaster. And money that could
and should have been spent on content is getting spent on
distribution instead, and it weakens the industry.
as that burgeoning cost is eating into money that could and
should have been spent on content, in the end it is affecting
the viewer, with no medium term solution in sight.
is the only real answer. Digitisation is slowly coming in
the non-CAS areas, but the operative word is 'slowly'. Anything
that the government can do to accelerate digitisation will
be for the good of all, mostly for the good of the consumer.
other important thing with growing competition is the issue
of audience measurement. Periodically there is heated debate,
and everyone has an expert opinion on the subject. But listen
to what each broadcaster says, and you know how good their
ratings are: why else are yesterday's critics silent today
and why were today's critics silent yesterday, when the system
has been the same for years?
even as broadcasters and agencies criticize the measurement
system they continue to use the data to help in buying and
selling Rs 5-6,000 crore worth of advertising, on the nonsensical
plea that some data is better than no data.
have been impassioned complaints about how the broadcasters
and production houses are victims of the rating system, how
every Friday when those wretched numbers come in they have
to slog overnight to fix the content according to what the
numbers tell them.
like a hypochondriac taking his temperature and blaming the
thermometer. No one is forcing anyone to use the data, much
less what to do about it. If you choose to be tyrannised by
it, that's your choice.
is not to say the current system is perfect. That it needs
upgrading is beyond doubt. The industry has taken the initiative
in that, with the formation of the Broadcast Audience Research
the outcome, it can only lead to a better, more robust measurement
best thing that has happened this year?
may sound like a strange thing to say, but to my mind the
best thing that has happened is the ongoing debate about the
Broadcast Bill and the Content Code. It brings many issues
to the fore, many things that we need to be more aware of
and many that we need to engage with the government about.