M&E Continues to be a Strong Pillar of Indian Economy

admin   February 9, 2021

During lockdown, both TV and smartphone video consumption surged as people spent more time at home. OTT continued its onward march, increasing its presence in Indian Tier 2-4 cities

Even as 2019 has been a tough year and businesses across the board have had challenges, Media and entertainment sector continues to be a strong contributor to the Indian economy, said Kanchan Samtani, Managing Director & Partner, Boston Consulting Group-India, while briefing about the CII BCG report on the state of Indian M&E sector that was released during the CII Big Picture Summit 2019.

The report, she said, “talks about what this year has looked like so far. And what are the expectations and what are some of the green shoots, we’re starting to see on the recovery front”. “Media and entertainment sector continues to be a strong contributor to the Indian economy. I think that fact has not changed. As we’ve been discussing over the last two or three big picture meetings, continue to be a set of imperatives, which have changed a little bit this year, on what all stakeholders have to do to continue to grow the sector and realize the full potential,” Samtani added.

Presenting an overview of the CII BCG report, the Managing Director & Partner of Boston Consulting Group-India said that from a consumption standpoint, this year, on the back of the COVID-19 crisis, the one thing that has changed positively for the sector, is there has actually been a spike in terms of the total consumption.

“This has been seen across platform, on digital or television broadcasting. And it’s been universally true, particularly at the start when people stayed home a lot more. But actually, a lot of that spike we expect will also continue going forward,” she said.

Speaking about major drivers of growth, she said that non-primetime viewership has actually been a major contributor to this growth. “OTT has been a major driver of growth, and has also actually seen a lot of growth in the rural and tier 2 and 3 cities from a consumption standpoint. And for the first time in India, on the digital platforms, we are actually starting to see a very meaningful inclination from consumers to pay for content directly on the digital platform.”

According to the report, the pay OTT models have actually started seeing as much as 50 to 60% growth in consumers who are willing to pay for subscription services online compared to the past.

India’s growth story on media and entertainment continues to be very unique, and multi modal, Samtani stated. “What I mean by multi modal is that different forms of media still have not been growing at the cost of necessarily the traditional media, I think what digital has done is added many more use cases for consumption, which didn’t exist in the pre odd pre digital days,” she observed.

Kanchan Samtani, Managing Director & Partner, Boston Consulting Group-India

According to the Managing Director & Partner of Boston Consulting Group-India, the growth rate in television consumption is actually continuing to grow in the range of 6-8 percent in some years, while they still continue to grow at more like 15%. “We’ll see other sectors have started to flatten a little bit. But I think overall, our expectation is that this will continue to be a high growth story across the board. And that’ll be multimodal in nature, in terms of the way that it actually takes off in other emerging markets like China, for example, where some of this has also played out in the past,” Samtani predicted.

She also thinks that the M&E Sector has had a tough time this year on the ad spend front, particularly in the first two quarters. However, given the recovery during the past crisis across the world, she is optimistic that the recovery will be faster. “Advertising, at least in the past crisis, has actually seen a V-shaped recovery. Of course, it’s linked to the GDP growth and growth of all the other sectors in the market. But I think the past crises give us some comfort that not just in India, but in other parts of the world as well, advertising has been closer to a V shaped recovery and we can hope to see that here as well.”

According to the CII BCG report, between July and October, Indian M&E sector actually saw 20% increase in AD volume. “Some sectors, particularly durables, food, and beverages, personal care and accessories, really saw a much sharper recovery in the month following the lockdown. Some sectors continue to be very resilient.”

One of the strong growth indicators, the report finds, is in the large number of advertisers utilizing both television and digital media platforms to expand their reach. “We’ve seen as many as 1,300 new advertisers coming up in the last couple of months, and a lot of these earlier have been from education and healthcare sectors,” Samtani said.

Another positive trend the report points out is that the digital advertising has accelerated in 2019. “Most published sources have reported that they expect digital advertising to be maybe 15% by 2022. But we have actually touched this figure and most people have revised their projections and start looking at more like 20% of growth over the next couple of years,” she pointed out.

Samtani attributes this shift to change in advertisers’ behavior. “Advertisers have wanted to target customers more specifically with improved analytics. They have been asking for return metrics and specific ROI calculations which digital has been able to offer to them. And I think that is what has accelerated the shift, along with the consumption shifts to digital platforms at a much faster rate.”

The report also talks about Indian M&E industry’s contribution to the Indian Economy. “It is well understood that the Indian M&E industry has actually been contributing both intangibly as well as tangibly to the Indian economy. The contribution in tangible terms and direct terms has been through employment generation and the contribution to GDP of which is almost 1%. If I take direct, indirect, as well as the induced figures, our estimate is that the contribution that the M&E industry is making to India’s GDP will be in the range of three to  three and a half percent. Some of the sub sectors that have really grown faster have been OTT, gaming and digital,” the Managing Director & Partner of Boston Consulting Group-India said.

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What’s Wrong With our News Media Today ?

admin   July 13, 2020

Everyone is busy outdoing the other in the mad race to grab eyeballs. Views have replaced news. So, sometimes, crime shows rule and at other times the leitmotif is supernatural occurrence By Amit Khanna

To me a simple definition of news is organised information about a changed situation, events, happenings and people. There was a hierarchy of news which was determined by immediacy and social significance. The fact that it’s expensive to publish a newspaper, there is always an underlying business model in publishing. In most cases, it is to make money, in a few to push an agenda — political or otherwise. All the talk of a mission, objectivity and fourth pillar of democracy is a lot of rhetoric and utopian eloquence. Advertising was always the major source of revenue as it remains even today. Alternatively, the funding comes from whoever wishes to back a point of view which obviously benefits him.

For over two centuries in India and elsewhere, the business of news has continued on pretty much the above lines. Till the advent of TV news in India, newspapers (and magazines) imagined themselves to be the custodians of the nation’s conscience, no matter their own credibility was coloured by a political tint. However, they were largely confined to mere reportage of events and happenings and occasionally people, leaving the pontification to edit page pundits. Digital technology, computers and satellite transmission changed news gathering and dissemination a lot. The ability to cover any event or happening in real time altered the way people connected with it.

Initially, radio and then TV restricted themselves to reports on incidents, people and problems. From contextualising to interpretation, news then succumbed to biases. The way you edited a story, juxtaposed facts or even positioned it, changed the story itself. This malaise has only got heightened today.

Several decades ago, one of the founding fathers of modern journalism, Walter Lippmann, said, the press is like a roaming spotlight, bouncing from topic to topic, story to story, illuminating things but never fully explaining them. “The function of news,” he wrote, “is to signalize an event, the function of truth is to bring to light the hidden facts, to set them into relation with each other, and make a picture of reality on which men can act.” This may appear simple but is the crux of the problem. Media vehicles predicate where they want to go for a story. So, who you talk to, what questions you ask and how much of the answers you retain, what is seen and said determines the final outcome. It does not make an iota of difference whether the perspective is decided by the owner, editor, journalist, advertiser or even the government. The fact is, objectivity is fiction. When the width of your knowledge is Google search and the depth is social media reports or leaks from interested parties, any claim to be
independent is bunkum.

There is not a single objective media vehicle. The so-called liberal media are as partisan and prejudiced as the saffron and various other leaning towers of verbiage. What will replace this jejune noise is still a matter of, well, debate. The edge of the cliff is in sight but the phoenix is yet to be born is mixed metaphors apart. There is some sense in an occasional story on TV, online or even print, but these are mere flashes in an otherwise bleak scenario. Print, struggling to survive, is less strident. A large number of left and extremist journals have perished under their own intellectual arrogance and ideological ignorance. The rest keep on batting aimlessly with a straight face rather than a straight bat. A few holier than thou ‘civil society’ “do gooders” and “grassroots workers” spew endless “gyan”, whichever the media it may be.

Everyone is busy outdoing the other in the mad race to grab eyeballs. Views have replaced news. So, sometimes, crime shows rule and at other times the leitmotif is supernatural occurrences. Now, in online news, which is simple to put together and relatively inexpensive, all and sundry don the expert’s mantle. Retired bureaucrats, politicians in the electoral wilderness, out of job editors, have-been and wannabe journos, academics, parvenus and celebratii and the strange breed which goes by the name of activists are all spewing petabytes of unconsidered opinion. It’s another matter that publication/channel/website, anchor/editor has preselected quote hangers and verbal gymnasts and dial-aminute experts ready to harangue. Roving microphones, live coverage and random selection of data only peppers up the debate. Forget the investigative journalism of the 1980s. Or even the pseudo intellectualism of the 1970s. The idealism of the 1950s is best remembered in retrospect. Investigative journalism is now innuendo, leaks and source-based plants. A vast majority of journalists cannot even write or speak the language fluently they report in.

TV news today is an audiovisual akhara. There are nightly shouting matches. Pompous, ill-informed and amateurish spokespersons wrangle with pesky anchors and a montage of animated faces in agitated voices. Today, TV news is entertainment. The ones which a decade ago were watchable are all platforms of premeditated ideological noise. Some are pretenders of serious journalism, which makes them even more suspect. While the anchors are all heavily made up and coiffured and dressed fancifully, their diction and language leaves a lot to be desired. And it’s not that this problem is restricted to any language or region. Sensationalism under the garb of breaking news and scoops are unleashed with regular ferocity on every medium. Breaking news is more regular than advertising across media.

Unfortunately, in the last 20 years, journalists have become lazy and predictable. Google and Wikipedia are the fountainhead of research. If you notice, TV anchors quote print stories and print journalists take a clue from TV news. Both use Twitter (and other social media) as source of information and then start spreading their points of view as the ultimate truth via WhatsApp. The smarter ones are across different social media platforms. Every now and then a lot of noise is made about fake news and trolling. It’s the pot calling the kettle black. My source is genuine, the others unreliable. If you closely follow news, you realise more than half of it is plants by different interest groups. Interestingly, media persons and their loyal supporters are the ones who keep the whole trolling game going on social media. What with Bots and algorithms taking over, every slanging match gets millions of likes, dislikes, posts and ripostes by the millions. Do they represent the voice of the people? No way. One set consists of government apologists and the other government bashers. Political bias is worn as a badge of honour. Just being anti establishment does not make you correct. Nor does being cheering squads for the powers that be.

Secularism and nationalism are two other notions much bandied around by the media today. TV only accentuates the decibel level. If the fat lady screams on one channel, then be sure schoolmarm harangues on another. Two well-known English anchors are both the self-appointed questioners of the nation. One bow-tied greyhound spends his day collating news clippings on Google and the evenings questioning hapless guests. Two former editors with similar lineage run their talk shows with opposite political slants. One venerated pioneer is having telethons and others are busy with town hall meetings. On business channels, one lady is the repository of all the knowledge on banking and economy while a bunch of reporters have turned stock market experts and corporate analysts. The long line of inquisitors has only increased and shouters go on and on and the tone gets shriller. The liberals are as usual paranoid about some imaginary loss of freedom even as some overzealous nationalists are busy boycotting people and countries. Indian democracy, meanwhile, thrives amidst media cacophony.

One of the major issues is that India has far too many publications (70,000), news channels (300+) and thousands of online news sites. No wonder mediocrity rules. The latest scourge is Webinars, Zoom meetings, Hangouts and virtual conferences. In these days of Work from Home, it’s a good pastime. Now wait for the innumerable award shows run by various media organisations going virtual. Journalists should be as transparent as possible about sources and methods, so audiences can make their own assessment of the information. Even in a world of expanding voices, accuracy is the foundation upon which everything else is built: context, interpretation, comment, criticism, analysis and debate.

That is a tall ask my friend.

(This column by Amit Khanna was originally published by IANS)


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Finance Minister Proposes FDI Norm Relaxation in Media

admin   July 9, 2019

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has proposed to further relax norms and open up foreign direct investment (FDI) in Media and AVGC (Animation, Visual effects, Gaming and Comics) sector in her maiden budget speech on Friday.

“I propose to further consolidate, the gains in order to make India more attractive FDI destination. The government will examine suggestions of further opening up of FDI in media, AVGC (Animation, Visual effects, Gaming and Comics) in consultation with stakeholders,” she said.

Already India is one the most liberal media markets in the world in foreign direct investment (FDI) for global companies to engage in business.

Currently, the government allows 26% FDI in publishing of newspapers and periodicals involved with news and current affairs through the approval route and 49% FDI in news channels.

While no rules have been framed for FDI in news and current affairs in digital media in India, indications are that government may spell out norms for permitting 26% or 49% for Streaming of news & current affairs through digital media.

It is not clear on what’s to come in FDI in AVGC (Animation, Visual effects, Gaming and Comics sector. The AVGC sector already enjoys 100 per cent FDI, although no rules have been forumlated for this sector.

MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT SECTOR: CURRENT FDI NORMS

  • FDI in all film-related activities such as film financing, production, distribution, exhibition, marketing etc. is permitted up to 100% for all under the automatic route
  • 100% foreign direct investment (FDI) in the advertising sector through the automatic route
  • FDI up to 100% now permissible in broadcasting carriage services outlined in FDI Policy, viz., teleports, DTH, Cable Networks, Mobile TV and Headend-In-The-Sky – FDI up to 49% permissible under automatic route and above 49% under Government approval route
  • FDI up to 100% permissible under automatic route in case of up-linking of non-news and current affairs TV channels and down-linking of TV channels
  • FDI up to 100% is permitted in publishing/printing scientific and technical magazines, periodicals and journals
  • 100% FDI for General Entertainment Channels
  • FDI up to 49% permissible under Government route in case of terrestrial broadcasting FM (FM radio), up-linking of ‘news and current affairs’ TV channels
  • In the news and current affairs category, such as newspapers, FDI has been allowed up to 26% subject to certain conditions
  • Companies would require government approval for 49% FDI in news channels. But 100% foreign investment in non-news channels or entertainment broadcasters will be allowed through the automatic route

Third Edition Of MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Awards Announced

admin   July 9, 2019

Submissions are now open for the third edition of the MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Awards 2019, organised by Reed MIDEM.

Dedicated to championing and promoting diverse and inclusive content that can make an impact on wide audiences, the MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Awards will be held on Monday 14 October 2019. The world’s entertainment content market, MIPCOM takes place in Cannes, France from 14-17 October 2019.

Reed MIDEM also aims to ensure that MIP Markets have an inclusive atmosphere and support initiatives from different groups, bring new content creators and create new opportunities for them in the business, and support diversity in executive ranks and writers’ rooms to empower new generations.

“As the global TV industry event, one of MIPCOM’s missions is to push the agenda to encourage equal and positive representation – both in front of and behind the camera. We are so delighted to launch the 3rd edition of the MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Awards, which has quickly become one of the main highlights of the event,” said Laurine Garaude, Director of the Television Division at Reed MIDEM, which organises MIPCOM.

To achieve these goals, Reed MIDEM relies on the support and guidance of the MIP Markets Diversity Advisory Board, comprised of: Bunmi Akintonwa, CEO, Little Black Book Company; Sahar Baghery, Head of Business Development, Amazon Prime Video; Sean Cohan, President, Wheelhouse Entertainment & Chief Business Officer, Wheelhouse Group; David Cornwall, Managing Director, Scorpion Television; David Ellender, President, Global Distribution & Co-productions, Sonar Entertainment; Sallyann Keizer, Managing Director, Sixth Sense Media; David Levine, GM, Disney Channels UK; and Nick Smith, EVP Formats, All3Media International.

This year’s Diversity and Inclusion programme will feature major personalities who are speaking out to create more opportunities and enhance visibility for talent from diverse backgrounds. It will also highlight experts demonstrating the positive impact of diversity, and support a series of networking events bringing together various communities.

A key part of the programme, the MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Awards ceremony is an invitation-only event for some 200 leading TV executives. The winning shows will be chosen by charitable organisations and specialised publications that campaign for equality and inclusion (names to be announced soon), who will reward positive programming across the year that embraces representation in worthy shows. The deadline for submissions is 22 July 2019.

To be eligible, programmes must provide a fair and accurate representation of BAME, LGBTQ+ and disabled communities, stand out for originality and excellence in terms of storytelling, casting and production values, challenge stereotypes, and show a positive impact.

Episodes submitted must have aired within the past year (between 1 September 2018 and 21 July 2019) on a linear and/or non-linear platform (first broadcast of any season).

Programmes can be entered in one category only:

MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Award for Representation of Race and Ethnicity
. Scripted
. Non-Scripted

MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Award for Representation of LGBTQ+
. Scripted
. Non-Scripted

MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Award for Representation of Disability
. Scripted
. Non-Scripted

MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Award for kids’ programming, across all genres

All submitted programmes will be reviewed by members of the MIP Markets Diversity Advisory Board, along with a panel of TV experts to be announced soon and Reed MIDEM’s editorial team.

Reed MIDEM is pleased to welcome back Diversify TV as partner of this year’s MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Awards.