Thursday, April 26, 2007

STAR TV, Levers kiss and make up

Just yesterday I posted on the STAR-Levers impasse -- and a few hours later, I learnt that all pending issues have been resolved to the satisfaction of both protagonists. Levers spots will appear on channels on the STAR network as early as they can be scheduled by media planners and accomodated by the inventory position.
Good week for STAR. They get a COO, Uday Shankar, and they resolve what could have been a vexatious problem.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

TATA brands back on BCCL

When I read The Economic Times this morning, I kept staring at the TCS full page ad, as if something was wrong with it. It’s an ad I’ve seen any number of times in the past few weeks, and, considering it’s a full page insertion, that’s no surprise.
I moved on.. and then, froze.

A TCS ad in a BCCL newspaper? A TATA ad in the ET?

The release signals an end to the stand-off between the TATAs and The Times of India group – a stand-off that’s a few years old, a period during which not a single TATA owned company advertised in any publication from the BCCL stable.

A stand-off that saw the Indigo launched without the Times of India, a stand-off that saw the Trent-owned Landmark bookstore launch in Mumbai and Pune without the Times of India. A stand-off that forced media planners working on TATA accounts to look at means to get to consumers in permutations and combinations without the Times of India.

And DNA and Hindustan Times were the biggest beneficiaries, the TATA “ban” on ToI proving to be manna from heaven when the newspapers launched in Mumbai.
Now that the ice seems to have melted, DNA and HT will also be the biggest losers, as one can now expect other TATA brands to use the Times again.

And on another medium, Levers and STAR TV face off, with no Levers product on air on the entire network. Let’s see how long this one plays out, and how much Zee and Sony gain from the negotiation impasse.

Monday, April 23, 2007

INX to launch India’s first 24X7 English news channel

At every seminar or forum on media or television, one question is sure to pop up during the proceedings: Is there room for the zillions of channels that will launch in the next year?
On many of the genres, I have my doubts – and I am certain top lines and bottom lines will be affected for current as well as future players.
When it comes to new English news channels, I have no such fears.
Because the genre does not exist.

When STAR launched their 24X7 news channel with NDTV, I saw it as a breath of fresh air. I loved the BBC (I still do) but it could never deliver all that I wanted in the Indian context (it still doesn’t).
And when the channel became NDTV 24X7 when Dr Roy terminated the relationship with STAR, I was still an avid, frequent and loyal consumer.
When Rajdeep Sardesai left NDTV to launch CNN IBN, and almost simultaneously Times Now hit the airwaves, I suffered an embarrassment of riches – three English news channels to choose from.
Now, a little over a year since we have had local “English” news channels, I discover I have none at all. I am now a pauper, rather than one suffering from the embarrassment of riches that I described earlier.
Because none of the existing players – none—cares a whit for the quality of English when it comes to the majority of their reporters and stringers.
So police becomes puliss, privilege becomes previlage, and so on.
Reporters routinely struggle to string together a coherent sentence in English, and one can almost see the studio anchors wondering what on earth is happening.
A significant proportion of the conversations and interviews is in Hindi or in other Indian languages – and that’s fine, in a country like India. But, during such interviews, could the quality of subtitling be of a quality that passes muster?
No, feel the channels.
So we have reporters who struggle to speak in English, and subtiltles in a language that can only be described as undecipherable.
That’s why INX will have no struggle when they seek a niche in the English news space. Why a niche? When there’s no one else on the firmament, they can have the whole pie to themselves.