Broadcasters set to mix ideas & business @ITF

02 Aug,2012

Announcing the Indian Televsion Fest (from left to right): Keertan Adyanthaya, Monica Tata, Sunil Lulla, Uday Shankar, Punit Goenka and Lydia Buthello



By Johnson Napier


The god-like status that the medium of television commands in India today is indicative from the endless attention that gets showered on it from all and sundry. Whether for the advertisers who are willing to bend rules and swing  to their tunes or for the viewers who can take a liking to anything that’s thrown across at them (well, almost), the Indian broadcast industry is calling the shots in a manner that is pivotal to its growth.


In fact, the popularity that it commands can be gauged from the growth that the medium has been throwing up in the past five years, which has been in the range of 12 per cent. This of course is backed by its ability to occupy a lion’s share of the ad pie and still remain a favourite medium for the advertisers.


But while there are some obvious highs that ensue from the medium, the medium has been at the receiving end as well. Like the constant criticism it attracts for not being able to display a show of unity to voice common issues rather letting personal goals take precedence. Then there are also those who question the absence of a platform for the industry to come together and air and share views of common interest. But the last peeve may well be a thing of the past with the announcement of the Indian Television Fest 2012.


The Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF), led by president Uday Shankar of Star India and core festival committee members comprising Sunil Lulla of Times Television Network, Punit Goenka of ZEEL, Keertan Adyanthaya of NGC Networks, Monica Tata of Turner International India and Lydia Buthello of Star India announced the first-of-its-kind event for the industry. The two-day festival will be held at the Baga Grounds,Goa on November 2 and 3, 2012.


The two-day fest would be a unique platform for the Indian and global broadcasting industry to network and exchange ideas through engaging panel discussions and master classes. Renowned names from India and across the globe are expected to participate in the mega event. And since it’s Goa, with the inviting beaches for company and some fun.


Throwing open the idea to the gathering, Mr Shankar began by thanking his core team members, without whom the fest wouldn’t have been a reality. Explaining the thought process behind the exercise, Mr Shankar said: “The idea has been in the pipeline for almost a year now. We felt it was the right time to launch Indian Television Fest as the industry has grown big enough to manage an event of this scale. It basically stemmed from the need to create a platform where the entire broadcast industry could come together under a single roof – irrespective of the organisational and competitive background – so that there could be co-sharing and exchange of ideas and conversations on how the industry can take a big leap into the future.”


According to him, what would make the event special would be its ability to get together honchos and industry persons from different verticals under television to come and be a part of the give-and-take. He affirmed: “Apart from some familiar and popular names the event will see the best in broadcasting brain trust from India and the world descend at the venue. The ultimate aim of ITF would be to service the larger Indian broadcasting community. It will also be driven with the dual need of being business-minded in its approach while at the same time having a social connect, as we believe the two are interlinked and cannot work in isolation from each other. All in all, we plan to make this event truly iconic in nature.”


Giving a lowdown on the two-day event, Monica Tata of Turner India began by bringing to light some of the high points of the Indian broadcast industry. Providing a bird’s eye view of the current media scenario, she said: “India is the third largest market for media behind US and China. It has reported a growth of 12 per cent in the last five years which will continue to keep swelling. Further, the country boasts a reach figure of 500 million and is estimated to be worth Rs33,000 crore. This number is expected to triple to almost Rs100,000 crore by 2017. Needless to say there are tremendous opportunities that will enable the industry reach this figure in the coming few years.”


Highlighting the tremendous opportunities that the Indian market presented for the future, Ms Tata said: “India has a penetration level of just 60 per cent leaving a lot to be achieved going forward. Further the C&S households are expected to grow to 88 per cent from the current 81 per cent. Also, the average time spent on television viewing is still low at 150 minutes compared to other countries that are almost double the number. And finally, with digitisation, DTH, HD taking off in a big way coupled with the unhindered growth of regional channels should see the industry enjoy prime status in the near future.”


According to Ms Tata, some of the key themes scheduled at ITF include: best practices and masterclass that’ll be weaved around core areas of content, distribution, revenues, technology, etc; presence of visionary speakers like James Murdoch of International News Corporation, Andy Bird of Walt Disney, Hugh Johnson of Channel 4, Michael Lynton of Sony Corporation of America, Subhash Chandra of Zee & Essel Group, etc; debates and conversations; interaction with regulators and policy-makers; and finally encouraging cross-genre ideation.


Presenting his viewpoint, Sunil Lulla of Times Television Network said: “There was no platform as yet in India where the issues and concerns of the Indian television industry were being raised and addressed. ITF will be a platform where one can learn, interact and demonstrate the road for the future. Three factors that’ll drive this event include the need for conversations, need for confidence to hold an event of this stature and need for commitment from the industry to take this industry from Rs33,000 crore to Rs100,000 crore by 2017.”


On the key highlights to be expected at the event, Punit Goenka of ZEEL said: “We all know how New Media is going to be the platform of the future and we also know how regionalisation is going to take the industry further…and since regional has a lower base it is growing faster than the other genres. However, there are avenues that we need to discuss. Nobody has an answer as to how we will reach the Rs 100,000-crore mark but one has to start the process of thinking about it.” When asked if it would be a practically possible to reach the Rs100,000 crore mark in a short span of four years he said: “We have to talk about it and see how we get there. Nobody has an answer as to how we would get there. But unless you talk about it and bring it up in discussions how do we even make a beginning to reach there? I think the end goal is not important; it’s the journey which is going to be important.”


When asked on the initial response that the event has managed to generate, Mr Lulla said: “Members from the broadcast industry have shown tremendous enthusiasm to the initiative, which can be seen from the initial buzz that is being created where registrations are concerned. As you know, we are a little late industry as we like to start things a little later. We hope the television industry supports us in a fashion by sending more members to attend the event. We have fantastic line-up of speakers from India and abroad; and of course, we would like the industry to stretch themselves a bit and sponsor many other themes and elements that we have lined up out there.”


Mr Lulla added: “As you know, we are always a last-minute industry, so it’ll be a challenge to get a lot of people to attend the event. Also, there will be the challenge of generating advertising revenues so that we can stage the event successfully. But we are confident of putting up a successful event.”


On the benefits that will accrue to IBF from the event, he said: “What IBF will particularly benefit from is take the ideas that come out and find out what will be the cornerstones for the industry going forward and what will become items of agenda. What people who come there to attend the event to take off is personal learning – so there will be ideas, new friends will be made…in all, it will be a mind-opening event, so to speak.”


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