75% advertising drop in Q1. And no support from government, says advertising veteran Sam Balsara

10 Aug,2020

By A Correspondent

 

Madison World founder and CMD Sam Balsara has lamented lack of support from the government to the industry and said that it has completely ignored the sector.

 

He was speaking with Kailashnath Adhikari, MD, Governance Now in the Visionary Talk series on the topic ‘Impact of COVID – 19 on media and entertainment industry and the role of governance in the media sector’.

 

Said Balsara: “The government needs to provide a stimulus package to the advertising industry and push consumer demand. Perhaps they think if they gave a concession to advertising, then it would be considered a concession to the sector itself. It is not a concession; it is a stimulus package to revive demand and that is how it should be seen by the government and positioned and not as a sop to the media industry.”

 

Balsara said that the advertising industry has faced an overall steep drop of almost 75% in the first quarter of the FY 2020-2021 adding that in April it was about 95%, improved slightly in May, and recovered well in June, especially in the TV and digital media. “Print, radio outdoor and cinema are totally in the dumps and will only see some semblance by Diwali provided the govt allows suburban railways in metros and majority offices open. The industry was expecting TV to recover 80%-90% of last year’s levels in Q2 of the FY,” he said.

 

Responding to a question that if the government has responded well to the stakeholder’s recommendation of allowing amortisation of advertising expenditure to companies to help the economy back on track and create demand, Balsara lamented a lack of support from the government and wondered why it has completely ignored the sector, saying: “Perhaps they think if they gave a concession to advertising, then it would be considered as a concession to the sector itself. It is not a concession; it is a stimulus package to revive demand and that is how it should be seen by the government and positioned and not as a sop to the media industry.”

 

He said that Work From Home is a huge setback to the economy as it could work well for individuals and companies but not create consumer demand. “When advertising is widely recognised as the engine for large no. of consumer companies and drives demand in its absence the economy goes into a downward cycle. To spin out of this de-growth and perk up, a massive dose of advertising is required in July August, September.”

 

Balsara also came down heavily on Indian news channels and said that he is disappointed at what they repetitively put out and have to break out of the current rhythm of content. He was referring to the daily headlines of highest number of Covid-19 cases and deaths being reported by news channels which he said look as identical every day as they did four months ago.

 

“There are many opportunities for news channels to innovate, be more humane, and capitalize news intake intelligently. But repetitive news content is bringing the viewership down. When in the first week of lockdown viewership of news channels had shot up 300% today it has come down to February levels,” said Balsara

 

 

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