Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Monday, Feb 11, 2002
Industry & Economy - Radio/TV
The more the merrier in TV circuit
NEW DELHI, Feb. 10
EVEN as the broadcasting industry is plagued by recession, networks are scrambling to launch regional channels. Both Sahara and Eenadu TV have announced plans of spreading out across the country.
However, regional channels have so far found the going tough, with the exception of of Sun Network, which has had a profitable run.
There are no clear winners among the four other regional languages - Punjabi, Gujarati, Marathi and Bengali - which together have over a dozen channels vying for a small share of the advertising pie.
The top four mainline Hindi channels currently corner over 60 per cent of the total advertising revenue, while the remaining is split between the various news, foreign and regional channels.
An advantage that the southern channels enjoy over the other regional channels is that the market is media isolated.
"In the case of other regional channels, there is a lot of overlapping with Hindi language channels,'' a top media planner from Starcom said.
Mr Praveen Kumar, head of a media tracking company called Current Opinion Future Trends (COFT), said: "Ad revenues are generally proportional to consumer spending. Punjab and Gujarat are two regions where consumer spending is high, while spending is poor in Bengal and Maharashtra - minus Mumbai. Therefore, chances of Punjabi and Gujarati channels making money is better than other two.''
Currently, ad rates on these channels are very low, anything between a few thousands for a 10-second slot during prime time to just a few hundred rupees per 10 seconds for non-prime time bands. Hence, these channels tend to attract very localised advertising.
Channels such as Alpha from the Zee stable and Eenadu TV are able to get some ads due to a large bouquet of channels available with advertisers.
According to media planners, some of these regional channels - like Lashkara Punjabi, Alpha Gujarati, Eenadu Marathi and Bengali - have managed attract some viewership.
"Most of these channels have not yet achieved break-even, but are operational in the hope that some others will die,'' another media planner said.
But for now, regional channels are trying to survive by tapping the large non-resident Indian markets.
Some have managed to tie up with cable operators catering to the Indian diaspora abroad and earn revenues through a sharing arrangement.
Also, these channels are trying to make money by promoting regional music. This brings in revenues and also reduces programming costs, as most of the channels have some song-and-dance shows.
Channels are also creating events, like Lashkara Music Awards and Alpha Gaurav Puraskar for instance, and some local beauty pageants.
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