May 012012

If a boat capsizes in the North East (Assam to be precise) and no one hears of it, are there still casualties ?

Hopes dimmed on Tuesday of finding more survivors after an overcrowded ferry split in two and sank in northeast India, leaving more than 100 dead and around 100 missing.

Police said 105 bodies, including women and children, had been recovered so far from the fast-flowing waters of the Brahmaputra river, where the ferry sank in a sudden storm late Monday afternoon.

Despite an operating capacity of 225, some 350 people were believed to be on the two deck boat when it broke up mid-river in torrential, pre-monsoon rains.

had talked about this earlier, here

What is evident is that there are media centres – Mumbai and Delhi, and media peripheries. There are people and events that matter, and there are people and events that don’t.

Private sector media will be driven by self interest and that is profit. Frankly the private TV channel watching audience is either too caught up its own lives , or too unaware of the magnitude and diversity that is India, or too uncaring about people not in its own vicinity, for TV channels to focus on this issue. One excuse is there is regional media to cover this. But, if 500 people die in an overloaded boating mishap then why is it not a national issue. ?

This is the reason why we need a stronger, more independent DD. The last few times that DD tried to exert independence – by trying to do stuff that earned it money –  private channels scuppered it. But, maybe it is time we thought of a Public Service Broadcaster, one who represents the interests of India in all her diversity. Where calamities go beyond a super star putting on weight post pregnancy, and debate beyond 4 has beens in a TV studio.


spoke to a friend in Gawahati – people jump into boats with everything that they have, no bridges, no following of rules – this is how disasters happen. Easier to pay money to the victims than fix the system.. :(

Apr 102008

For the last 4 weeks or so we have been hard at work on our business plan. After 4 years of running our own business, it is time to get some cash infusion to do bigger and better things… Part of putting any business plan together is looking at shitloads of industry specific research as back ups for your own projections. Normally, in stuff like this you quote industry body reports on growth, returns, expectations etal… And normally one tends to use one of the two reports that are put out by the industry [tag]FICCI Frames[/tag] or the [tag]Confederation of Indian Industries[/tag] reports…..

However, this year the number of flaws and errors in the [tag]FICCI Frames[/tag] report makes it virtually unusable. The TV portion is vague .. their content market figures estimated at 9 billion INR (900 crores) seems grossly underestimated, especially given that last year's hours of original content was pegged at 32,000 hours+ hours of programming. On an average a large General Entertainment Channel (GEC) spends about 250 to 300 + crore rupees on content. This doesn't include regional, niche and other channels including news. With news one can take the stance that the costs don't really come into content but into personnel and infrastructure, and even if you discount news the figure is a lot higher than 900 crores. More likely to be INR 1500+ crores ( we did a back of the envelope calculation, and once it is validated I will post that). But, their figure can be defended.

But, what cant' be defended and what is a truly glaring piece of erroneous research is the following :


(source : page 107 of the FICCI Frames: Indian Entertainment & Media Industry Report, 2008

My serious suggestion is click on the JPEG to see the figures it will show the following gems :

Andaman & Nicobar and Arunachal Pradesh (we won't even go into the logic of this clubbing) has 1546 Cinema  screens.

Tamil Nadu has 6 Cinema  screens

Uttar Pradesh has 3  Cinema  screens

And the rest are equally ridiculous. Maharashtra (excluding Vidarbha) , according to the report has  95 Cinema  screens. (aside – i wouldn't be surprised if the Mumbai suburbs has 95 cinema screens

I can only surmise that the reason that [tag]China[/tag] wants to take over Arunachal Pradesh and the reason why [tag]Andaman and Nicobar[/tag] is sinking and the reason why [tag]Uttar Pradesh[/tag] has so much crime is because of the number of cinema screens. With this kind of data, we are going to end up with equally wonky causality :)  

Sep 112007

A friend of mine is starting a portal. Thankfully it is not his/her money. At this point of time the team is chasing a whole bunch of writers to deliver content as per pre set deadlines. Needless to say, the deadlines are rather tight, and the volume of content rather large and the expenses continuous. Their business model is simple — what i call the “field of dreams” model – if we build it they will come. We being the company that puts up this stuff, and they being the audience. And their ‘coming’ will attract moolah from the advertisers, and of course there is always the chance that people will subscribe to ‘good’ content.

However, the question still remains – as it did in 2000 – why will they come, and even if they did come how does it become a revenue model ? One thing that seems to be fairly clear is that people don’t want to pay for content – unless that content is very specialized. And, it does not really matter whether we are talking about TV or the net here. How many of the 200 odd channels will you subscribe to, paying hard earned cash. ? And tomorrow when CAS comes in, and the power of choice comes back to the hands of the consumer, how many channels beyond the ‘FTA’ (free to air) boquet will the household pay a maximum of Rs.5 per month to receive. By current indications, not too many. And, the same is the case with web.

The new jargon is UGC (user generated content) but indications are that we don’t really spend time and energy reading through badly written diaries or badly shot videos – by and large the sites that attract traffic, and within the sites – the content that attracts traffic – is professional in nature. And professional content costs. Which brings me back to the original question – how does it translate to profits. Two traditional methods have been subscription and advertising. But, given that there is so much ‘free’ and ‘good’ content available out there – is anyone going to pay for content – especially on the web? Last month the NYT made all its oped and columns free for everyone. Earlier you got the current issue free, and the rest had to be paid for. But now it is all free. Today, the WSJ has made all its content free – and this was a journal which was bandied around as the ideal subscription model. Niche focused content will bring in the paying subscriber, look at the WSJ the pundits said. And now look, they have made their content free — banking on large volumes of advertising chasing the audience that comes onto the site.

How much advertising revenue is there to maintain all these sites/channels with all their content? Will advertising alone be able to pay for all the content, and all the technology that goes into making that content I honestly don’t think so. Sooner or later the market is going to play the leveler, leaving those with the deepest pockets in there in the game. And the rest will die. When that happens, i suspect subscription will be back in full force !