Television

'People are turning to the BBC as a source of global perspective on world events' : Rupert Gavin Chief executive of BBC Worldwide's

https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/smartcrop_800x800/public/images/tv-images/2015/11/05/GavinRupert.jpg?itok=er66Y5KW

For Rupert Gavin, BBC Worldwide's chief executive, a trip to India seems linked to announcing a new programming initiative with Star India.

Last year he was in Mumbai in the middle of October to announce a licencing agreement with Star for the popular British television serials Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister for broadcast in Hindi as Ji Mantriji and Ji Pradhanmantriji respectively. Ji Mantriji is currently running on Star but Ji Pradhanmantriji seems to have gone into permanent cold storage.

This time round (25 October to be exact) it was to announce The Weakest Link, the biggest programming hit to come out of the BBC Worldwide stables in the last decade.

The largest non-US, English language television programme producer and exporter in the world (2000-01 programme sales increased from ?138m to ?150m), BBC Worldwide is still in the build phase as far as India is concerned, Gavin says. It is building the brand, building its presence so that it will be in a position to make investments. Once that happens, maybe India will contribute more than the 2 per cent it currently does to BBC Worldwide's sales.

In an interview with indiantelevision.com's Thomas Abraham, Gavin outlined BBC Worldwide's plans in the changed scenario post-11 September.

Post September 11, has there has been any particular change in strategy, how has the business model changed?

Since then, a lot has changed. Obviously our news programming, our news channels, have gained a lot. The world market has opened for documentaries. See, we probably have some of the best documentaries on Bin Laden, Al Qaida (the chief suspects in the attacks on the World Trade Centre). Nobody wanted them eight weeks ago. Now suddenly people who were not aware of these guys' movements are showing interest in buying these documentaries.

We are also aware of a shift in demand to a slightly more serious, more factual programming ethos. I think people's attitude to life, certainly in the West, has changed.

Is there a transformation in people's demands, are they more interested in trying to figure out what is happening outside America?

Big transformation. We have a lot of demand because a lot of the American papers have been writing that America's television news has become exclusively domestic. And certainly people are turning to the BBC as being a source of global perspective on world events. They are sad events no doubt but they have had a very significant and positive impact on us.

Obviously, the advertising market has been precarious. But the advertising market has been precarious all the way round the world. And that has an effect on us. But we will have to see how that shapes through.

'We are interested in bringing in more BBC channels, or channels in partnership with other people'

As a long term effect?

Whether it is a long term downturn or whether it is just a cycle.

What do you propose in India? Last year, there were a lot of things happening. There was also talk that you were in discussions with the Indian government regarding investment plans in broadcasting. What came of that?

We are still in discussions. It has been very a turbulent market and some of the changes that were going to take place did not. DTH, things like that, due to tight government restrictions. We are interested in the investment market in India. But things will have to move a little faster.

What projects are you looking at other than these?

We are interested in bringing in more BBC channels, or channels in partnership with other people. We are also interested in the radio market.

We are also expanding our publishing operations. At the moment, our publishing is gaining partnership with Penguin and the Noddies with Egmont.

From our perspective, and the traditional way that we work, is to expand by way of working with existing players on a licensed basis.

When we build on a sufficient scale in the market, we will start investing as well in infrastructure.

That is the programme of activity - we are in the build phase, which is why we are doing things with Star. Which is where Teletubbies and Noddy come in, as well as Ji Mantriji, the books with Penguin. We are actually building the brand, building our presence and that will help us to be in a position to make investments.

Any concrete investment plans?

Bring in channel operations. We are also looking at the possibilities of Radio, and publishing, maybe even magazines.

These will be BBC publications printed in India for sale in India?

Yes.

As far as radio is concerned, do you have that kind of cachet in India? I think radio as a medium seems to have lost out.

We are primarily on short wave, with a certain amount of FM redistribution. But that's all. We have got to get to a stage where it is accepted that BBC news can be broadcast on domestic channels.

Basically FM? Is that what you are looking at?

That's right.

'We have got to get to a stage where it is accepted that BBC news can be broadcast on domestic channels'

But you say you have a small band on FM. Could you elaborate on that?

I think we must be having. It's not my particular area but we do have a range of partnerships for FM redistribution around the world. Or, a lot of people are listening to us on the Internet. But obviously for India, the bulk of our dependence is on short wave.

Talking about your short wave listenership, have you tracked that in any way? Has it gone down?

It has remained pretty steady, actually. It's surprising that. It's not increasing but it's stable.

Any numbers?

It's around 30 million. It's very substantial considering that our total weekly listenership to the (BBC) World Service around the world is around 153 million.

What do you think about broadband, the Internet? Even in the West, it has not taken off, leave aside India.

We are the biggest Internet content provider outside America. We just keep pumping out internet content. We use more video content than any other internet provider in the world. And that's part of the service we provide.

As people's connections get faster and faster, their appreciation of our service also gets better. But we've always been ahead of the curve. That's why we have all of our radio channels on the Internet. That's why we have all of our news bulletins, a lot of our video archives on the Internet. We have more video and audio on the Internet than any other media company in the world.

What about the revenue model? That's the question any Net-based venture confronts today.

The majority of is publicly funded. That is our unique difference. We are able to do that because of public funding.

What about BBC's current investments in India, is it increasing... decreasing?

Increasing. I can't give you any figures though.

What about worldwide sales figures; what is coming out of Asia and how much is the contribution of India in percentages?

It's modest. Of our total worldwide sales it's about two per cent.

And Asia?

Asia is more substantial. Asia is about 15 per cent, but that includes Australia, which is a very big market for us. Bear in mind that 50 per cent of our sales are in the UK

Still? But wasn't that the sales break-up average in 1999? You were thinking it would go up weren't you? But it hasn't really gone up.

No it has. The international is now above. So we have moved from international (sales) being about 45 per cent to about 55 per cent. That's been the change over three years.

Latest Reads

https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/14/colors.jpg?itok=3yolvWub
Viacom18 launches Har Din Diwali campaign with exclusive pricing for COLORS & COLORS Kannada

Spreading the cheer this festive season, Viacom18 announces a-la-carte price for its flagship Hindi GEC COLORS and Kannada GEC COLORS Kannada at Rs 12/month each.  In line with this special festive price, Viacom18 is launching a consumer awareness campaign ‘Har Din Diwali’ encouraging viewers to...

Television TV Channels GECs
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/14/amazon.jpg?itok=ca4q-ezU
BARC week 40: Amazon, Flipkart’s festive season sales make them the top two brands

The Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India has released its data for top advertisers and brands for the period between 28 September 2019 and 4 October 2019. The data reflects top 10 advertiser and brands across genre on Indian television, including OOH screen, (U+R): 2+, Individuals NCCS...

Television TV Channels Viewership
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/12/barc.jpg?itok=06IbAd09
BARC week 40: No changes in Marathi and South GEC space

MUMBAI: In week 40 of BARC India ratings, no changes were observed in Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam space. In Bhojpuri space, Bhojpuri Cinema took the leading position and B4U which was leading last week has slipped to second position. In Bhojpuri space, Bhojpuri Cinema, B4U...

Television TV Channels Viewership
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/12/spider.jpg?itok=wEvm7VUj
Explore the Spider-verse with the &pictures Hindi premiere of ‘Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse’ on 12th October at 8 pm

MUMBAI: Imagine, one morning you get up to discover that you have special powers like a superhero. Sounds interesting right! Well, similar is the story of a young lad Miles Morales who is stunned on finding out about his spider like abilities. But just when he thinks that he is the only one with...

Television TV Channels Movie Channels
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/12/Zee.jpg?itok=pKLKs3DQ
Marking its 27th Anniversary, Zee announces attractive Festive Bonanza Offer on its leading entertainment channels

MUMBAI: The television industry has successfully managed to transition to the New Tariff Order (NTO) regime. Zee, as the leading television network of the country has collaborated extensively with industry players to ensure a smooth transition. To mark its 27th Anniversary, Zee has taken yet...

Television TV Channels GECs
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/12/2.jpg?itok=y-LjTNSW
BARC week 40: Star Plus slips to third position, SET continues to lead in urban market

In the week 40 of BARC India ratings, the leading Hindi GEC Star Plus slipped to third position, last week the channel was seen at second position but the channel continues to hold first position on pay platform. In the urban market, Sony Entertainment Television and Colors were seen at first and...

Television TV Channels Viewership
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/12/star-india.jpg?itok=6GbY0IlJ
Star India announces festive offer for a-la-carte channels

In keeping with the festive spirit, Star India announces ‘Tyohar ka Upahar’, a promotional offer for its 16 a-la-carte channels including its popular channels -- Star Plus, Maa TV, Star Jalsha, Vijay, Asianet and Hungama TV. The festive offer prices will be available with immediate effect.

Television TV Channels GECs
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/11/vivo_pro.jpg?itok=yYgPWe5d
vivo Pro Kabaddi set to offer INR 8 crore in prize money for Season 7

Mumbai:  The ‘Toughest Week’ of vivo Pro Kabaddi League Season 7 is all set to treat fans with exciting matches at EKA Arena by TransStadia, Ahmedabad. vivo Pro Kabaddi announces a consolidated prize money of INR 8 crore for the seventh edition.

Television TV Channels Sports
https://www.indiantelevision.com/sites/default/files/styles/340x340/public/images/tv-images/2019/10/11/viacom18.jpg?itok=ufnpsdiR
Bringing alive the adventure of Roadies, Viacom18 Consumer Products and Work With Fun launches ‘Café Roadies’

MUMBAI: Celebrating the robust legacy of one of India’s longest-running reality shows, Viacom18 Consumer Products in association with ‘Work With Fun’ announced the launch of ‘Café Roadies’ in Noida today. The café will be a social pad for those who take inspiration from the road less travelled...

Television TV Channels GECs

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories