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FICCI Frames 2017: Birth of other mediums cannot kill traditional TV

MUMBAI: The fast changing scenario and the content ecosystem have gone through a significant change over the years and are keeping all the production houses and the broadcasters on their toes.

The 'Grammar of the new TV content' on the second day of FICCI FRAMES 2017 was discussed as experts from the industry sharing vital pointers in regards to the future of the television content and how this is expected to evolve with many changes coming its way, on a regular basis.

Moderated by Star India president and content studio head Gaurav Banerjee, the session saw Balaji Telefilms creative director and joint managing director Ekta Kapoor, Keshet International Asia head Gary Pundey, Trailer Park senior producer Robin Humbert, BBC Worldwide Asia Content VP Ryan Shiotani, Discovery Networks International South Asia head and GM Karan Bajaj, and GoNews founder and editor-in-chief Pankaj Pachauri expressing their views..

Answering a question on TV content, Shiotani said: “As a business we focus on high quality content across the genres. We focus primarily on three areas, one is the distribution of the content around the world, running of branded BBC channels and the third thing is the production around the world. For us, it is very clear to focus on high quality storytelling and production value. The emotional connection with the audiences is something we will continue to do in India and other markets around the world.”

Sharing her experience, the czarina of the Indian TV ecosystem Ekta Kapoor said: “Television is India’s biggest, most prominent and aggressive medium of entertainment. Women’s Day was celebrated by television. But technology cannot marginalize such a large medium and such a large voice. It challenges, actually give birth to fresher and more interesting content.”

Bajaj added: “In countries like the US, the UK and all developed broadcast markets, the smart TV penetration has shot through the roof. From 10 to 12 per cent smart TV penetration has reached 50 to 60 per cent in the last six months.”

Voicing a different viewpoint, Pachauri said: “We are talking about essentially television and digital. We have not touched yet how to change the grammar of the content. India and Bharat are going to come together because of digitization. As far as digital content and its grammar is concerned, we have to change are attitude towards television and no one is trying to change that. We started India’s first digital news television on phone because there are more phones in India then television. Within five years, TV as as we know it would just die. We need new grammar for this new television.”

Taking the cue, Banerjee claimed that radio was supposed to die in the 1950s, the film industry was over in the 70s, and Doordarshan was expected to be over in the 80s. “We keep foretelling these deaths but the reality is, it is not going to happen. Even in America where a lot of these changes have happened, TV is still incredibly big. The big advantage television has is its reach. Even people watching on digital will watch on television as well.”

But Pachauri said in India, from 2011 to 2016, the total reach of news television has gone down by 15 per cent according to Nielsen data. “I am not saying that the news will die, or serials or TV will die. There is a new player in the market and we have all to align with that,” he added.

Talking about the content Balaji produced, Kapoor said: “A lot of questions are raised by India and answered by Bharat. Unfortunately we have to be aware of the problems. If there wouldn't be any identification to these stories, they won't be told.”

She said, “There are three mediums which actually cater to the same people in three different ways. We all have the family phase, the outside world phase, and the individual phase (‘us’ phase). TV is the family phase where the whole family watches the same content. Film is the communal viewing, a screen with 300 people viewing, and digital is content that you want to consume alone. Clearly, for me it is the stories that matter and I cannot say this through other two mediums.”

Bajaj added: “Discovery is going through intense localization drive, and in the last ten years we have produced 5 to 10 hours of local content, and this year in September we will be moving to 300 hours local content. The learning for us is also this- that it is not the numbers of local hours but that the storytelling in India is different. We are used to very larger than life and entertaining stories so for 200 to 300 hours of local content, we have to shift from the documentary maker to the storytellers and its an interesting journey for us.”

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