Like Kasautii Zindagii Kay and Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Zee TV’s Astitva- Ek Prem Kahani will also go fast forward. The show takes a leap of 18 years, starting March 15. While the leap is scheduled just a few weeks away, the new cast has yet to be selected. A few names have been zeroed down, but Sinha refuses to elaborate. Shooting starts from February end. The appearance of a mysterious writer called Ananda is the next twist that viewers should look out for. Who will play Ananda, Sinha is not telling.
When contacted, producer-director Ajai Sinha said that the generation next show will mean a fresh beginning for him. He also revealed that prior to the leap all the loose ends with regard to Simran and Abhimanyu’s relationship will be tied up. So does Abhimanyu go back to Simran? “If I let that out, it would give everything away. That’s to be seen prior to the leap,” he winked.
Generation Next will not only have Simran’s daughter Aastha and Abhimnayu’s daughter Gudiya as young ladies, but giving them company will be Dr Manas’s son Sonu! “Though Dr Manas is currently in the US, on the show, he will be shown returning soon,” added Sinha.
Despite the leap, the show will continue to focus on Simran, “Niki Aneja is the heart of the show. Can Tulsi or Sakshi be eliminated from Kyunki… and Kahaani…? It will be even more interesting as Simran’s relationships will affect the Generation Next. Obviously they will react to it, and that would form the remaining crux of the story,” he concluded.
Deepasree Venugopal – Televisionpoint.com | Mumbai
Ambition makes for strange bedfellows and the Indian radio sector stands testimony to this fact. The Information and Broadcasting Ministry’s dogma and the private players’ sky rocketing ambitions have found it hard to get along, but still, it is appreciable that the players have still managed to conjure up an industry that is worth Rs 620 crore and is touching lives of people across 245 cities in India.
The onus of the next wave of expansion lies in the much talked about third phase of licensing, which is said to arrive soon. But given the present, stringent stand of the I&B Ministry in regard to the regulatory issues, this phase might just prove to be a total washout.
As Rajesh Sawhney, CEO, Big Entertainment, puts it, “In India, we need many more radio channels than the 250 stations we have. We need as many as 10,000 radio stations. For that to happen, the government needs to change the regulations, which is one of the biggest challenges for the industry.”
Issues like single frequency to every player in one market, news and current affairs being prohibited, high content costs and simultaneous emergence of competitive media would restrict radio’s growth in coming years.
Nikhil Vora, managing director, IDFC SSKI Securities, exclaims, “Radio as a medium has been highly under penetrated in India – attributable to lack of reforms and irrational regulatory policies. This, we believe, would restrict the share of Indian radio in the total ad pie to a peak level of 5 per cent as against the global average of 8.5 per cent.”
Globally, radio has grown on the back of niche and local advertising. However, the trend is not reflected in the Indian radio industry, as channels lack content differentiation due to government regulation of allowing single frequency to any radio station in each market.
As regulations don’t allow multiple frequencies to a single station, private players are not experimenting; instead they are playing a safe bet by operating in the mass segment. The case in point is that a radio channel, after paying about Rs 35 crore to get a radio frequency in Mumbai (which is roughly a Rs 80-100 crore on advertising market), will not take the risk to operate a niche channel.
For instance, 92.5 Go FM, which use to play only English music in Mumbai, repositioned itself in 2006 to the mass market. Harrish M. Bhatia, COO, MY FM, suggests, “Multiple frequencies will enable FM players to focus on niche markets without compromising on listenership.”
Given the platform of multiple licenses, there is a lot of creativity and experimentation possible with marginal incremental investments. Multiple licenses will lead to the creation of genre-based music stations (as in the west), which will not only segment the listener market but also pull in non-traditional listeners and advertisers.
For instance, in US, a radio player named Clear Channel operates more than 1,200 stations across 29 formats with as many as seven stations in 1 market, playing a range of categories like classic, Americana, rock, et al. Within music, there are over 15 niches and 30 sub-niches.
Puja Sharma, finance and HR head, Fever FM points outs, “A city like Bangkok has over 40 radio stations, while Delhi has a mere nine, given the current policy structure.”
“The government is cautious to prevent monopoly in the sector. That’s why it adheres strictly to the issue of not allowing multiple frequencies to private players in a single market,” reasons Sunil Kumar, managing director, Big River Radio India.
But in the days when everyone is encouraging liberalisation and free competition, the argument of monopoly prevention sounds inappropriate. Even in television, media houses offer a bouquet of channels, which helps them to have a wide offering and tap more consumers as well as advertisers.
After a point, general entertainment channels tend to lose market share to niche channels. In the last few years, we have witnessed a series of niche channels being launched – E-24, NDTV Imagine Showbiz, Awaaz, Pogo, Travel and Living, Zoom, VH1, et al. To grow at a faster pace, the Indian radio industry should also witness similar niche launches, which will be possible only if current regulations are relaxed.
Limitations on broadcasting of news and current affairs are a critical stumbling block. Globally, radio stations offer channels across genres like news, sports, talk shows, fashion, religion, et al. In US, radio listeners spend almost 50 per cent of their radio listening time on news or talk channels. News & current affairs will help radio gain wider acceptance.
The government however, has flatly denied TRAI’s recommendation to allow news content on radio, as of now. The argument given is that news reaches to the mass market and can be dangerous if misused.
Prem Kumar, station head, Chennai Live FM, says, “Radio has a deep reach. It’s not possible to monitor every radio station in every city and if left free, there can be misuse.”
Well the argument sounds strong yet there should be ways worked out of it instead of banning it. Like the government can make an arrangement where radio players should be allowed to air news content in partnership with traditional media.
With music being the only content, royalty becomes a major cost for Indian radio players. With per needle hour charges of Rs 667, radio operators end up paying Rs 5 million annually per station on an average, irrespective of the city of operations. This royalty structure that makes a similar content cost across markets is unjustified, and sends the whole business model for a toss.
The cost may not look very high in metros with revenues of over Rs 35-40 crore per player, but may overshoot 15-20 per cent of the revenues in smaller towns, thus squeezing margins.
Prashant Panday, CEO, Radio Mirchi, feels, “Paying Rs 40-50 crore as music royalty for any station irrespective of its population is obviously ridiculous. Unless, there is a logical royalty fee structure, profitability of radio, especially in small cities, will be doubtful. In that case we will surely not expand our network just for the sake of building big network.”
Another very important issue concerning profitability of radio in smaller cities is that networking of cities is not allowed. Networking of cities should be allowed as it will make the costs of operations go down.
Setting up a station is equally costly in metros and small cities, but revenue return prospects in small cities are not that high. So, most players are not willing to expand in these areas, given the cost constraint. Allowing networking and content syndication will help players to reach out to these audiences without much ado.
Besides, there are issues like allowing sale of stake and releasing more frequency in every market. These will make the business environment better. Unless these concerns are dealt with, the Phase III of licensing will not work.
As Radio Mirchi’s Prashant candidly says, “Given current regulatory policies, it isn’t possible to make operations viable in tier 2 and tier 3 cities; that’s why our interest in Phase III will be limited. We can bid for 4-5 stations but not more, unless policies are changed.”
Nikhil from SSKI concludes from his analysis, “Given the lacunas in the business, we see hardly any money to be made in the industry, unless there’re major changes on the policy front. As the competitive landscape sets in, we expect the industry to at best have a money making potential of Rs.1.4 billion and a share of 5 per cent in the ad pie against 8.5 per cent globally.”
Moreover, instead of utilising the services of an external body like TRAI, the government should let the sector be self-monitored by bodies like Association of Radio operators for India (AROI).
“When given that sooner or later the radio industry has to get into a society and self-monitor them, why not now ?” quizzes Anita Nayyar, CEO, Havas Media.
Given that the radio sector has grown so phenomenally in the past few years under these constraints, it will be quite unfortunate if its further growth is constrained by regulatory bottlenecks. Phase III seems headed for failure under the current scenario, where players may not find it very lucrative to add too many new channels in their bouquet.
Televisionpoint.com Correspondent | New Delhi
Leh is now on FM network, an landmark goal reached in the history of Indian radio industry. The satellite up-linking facility along with the 100-watt FM station (Rainbow) was formally inaugurated by Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad last week. It has become world’s highest radio station located at 11,800 ft above sea level.
“Our access was limited to a small area and all the three low power transmitters in Nyoma, Diskit and Khaltse would use a fraction of what we generated in Leh and for most of the time they would use the programmes from the national hook-up,” a senior engineer from All India Radio Leh said.
“With the satellite up-linking facility available, we can download entire programmes at three locations and if any other station would like they can also use,” he added.
The DD-AIR infrastructure in neighbouring Kargil was also upgraded. On Friday, the AIR Kargil’s single kilo watt transmitter was upgraded to 200 KW high power transmitters and its transmission time was enhanced from five to 10 hours a day.
From now on, its broadcast would have a better reach in Kargil and its neighbourhood on the other side of the LoC. Of the 10 hours, half of the transmission would be in local languages and half would be dedicated for Urdu – the state language – that connects all the three regions of the state. Right now, All India Radio Leh is offering a total of 11hours of service in three sessions.
“Our problem was that 80 employees in this station were working hard to generate the software but we had a limited reach and now it will change now”, the official said. Those belts that were otherwise within reach would now get local FM over and above of what they were already getting.
Lalli announced that well before the year end Leh would get a state of the art studio for the local DD station that would encourage local talent and most possibly will go for local commissioning.
“Right now we generate an hour long capsule a day, five days a week and after the infrastructure upgrade we would be able to take care of a number of local cultures and languages, Shabir Mujahid, who heads the DD in Leh said.
Televisionpoint.com Correspondent | Mumbai
Soccer viewership in India has been growing by leaps and bounds and so has the competition for telecast rights.
In a hard-pitched battle, ESPN Star Sports (ESS) has bagged the exclusive television rights to broadcast FIFA’s stellar line-up of international football events including the 2010 FIFA World Cup for the Indian sub-continent, at an astounding $ 40 million.
The rights to the earlier FIFA World Cup 2006 were bagged at a measly $ 8 million and those for 2002 went for just $ 3 million. Both Ten Sports and Neo Sports were part of the bidding process, with the former had come close with its $ 35 million bid, while Neo Sports stuck to its $ 28 million bid, according to sources.
Sources said the whole process underwent a change when revised bids were sought from the three competing parties. ESPN turned out to be the highest bidder.
ESS will have the rights to show over 275 international football games including the 2010 FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Confederations Cup both to be held for the first time on African soil in South Africa.
In addition, ESS will bring other premier FIFA World Cup events for men, women, youth, Futsal and Beach Soccer to fans in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Maldives, Bhutan and Nepal.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup is expected to once again captivate soccer fans as 32 teams get ready to battle for the coveted trophy in South Africa during June 11 – July 11, 2010.
The 2006 World Cup was watched by over 50 million people in India alone, which was a 44% increase to the 2002 broadcast. The reach of Barclays Premier League too has grown at over 40% per annum since 2005.
Manu Sawhney, managing director, ESPN Star Sports said, “We are extremely delighted to continue our partnership with FIFA with whom we share a very special relationship. This agreement is a testament to our commitment of building the game of football by presenting it in the most innovative and entertaining manner to millions of fans in the Indian subcontinent.”
R C Venkateish, managing director, ESPN Software India, said, “ESPN Star Sports has played a key role in propagating international soccer in India and the results have begun to show. Soccer viewership has shown a consistent increase. For instance, the reach of Barclays Premier League has grown at more than 40% per annum since 2005.”
Joseph S. Blatter, president, FIFA, said, “I am proud that today with ESPN-Star-Sports an important key player in the sports industry is joining the FIFA Family to further enhance football across its platforms in the Sub-Indian region. The fact that ESPN Star Sports is entering in its record deal in Indian market, underlines its commitment to football.”
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Televisionpoint.com Correspondent | Mumbai
Wire & Wireless India Ltd (WWIL), the cable television company of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, will be strengthening the brand identity of Siticable network and invest in a revitalising exercise to support its roll-out of digital cable television.
Zee will spends Rs 50 crore on a marketing exercise that will take Siti Digital Cable Television to fifty cities this year. WWIL currently has its services in Mumbai, Delhi, Lucknow and Ludhiana, and has strengthened its presence in South India by rolling out their services in Bangalore.
Deepak Chandnani, CEO, Wire and Wireless, said, “We are ramping-up on several fronts, not just for the brand, but also to build call centres and expand distribution, including our digital cable network. It is an integral part of our plan to focus on digital cable offerings and value-added services for our customers.”
“We conducted an extensive market survey before the image makeover. After the survey, we took a decision to synergise the brand values and brand image of all our brands.” Chandnani adds.
WWIL is adding two more head ends to its existing five digital head ends in Mumbai, New Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore and Ludhiana. WWIL is also all set to launch the first Headend-in-the-sky (HITS) operations in the next 15-20 days and is learnt to be working on a revenue model.
Siticable’s digital cable TV will offer electronic programme guides, parental lock, and value-added services like video on demand. “We are competing with DTH to get into the consumer’s mind for quality of service and not just product and pricing. It is not about whether our services and product is cheaper or better, but the value for money that we will be offering.” said Chandnani.
Saints and Warriors is the creative agency for the company. Chandnani informed that apart from Saints and Warrior, which would look after the frontline advertising, the company was in the process of having an agency on board for below-the-line activities.
A 360-degree campaign unveiling its new logo will bring its different services, including broadband, under the Siti brand name. While basic cable television will be sold under Siti Network, digital television will sell under Siti Digital Cable Television and its local channel will be called Siti Local.
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Televisionpoint.com Correspondent | Mumbai
Bollywood actor Om Puri has been appointed as the new Chairman of National Film Development Corporation (NFDC) for a period of 3 years.
Earlier, Manmohan Shetty of Adlabs, Dadasaheb Phalke awardee and renowned film director Hrishikesh Mukherjee and Hema Malini had also served as chairman of NFDC.
Om Puri said, “NFDC has played a prominent and a pivotal role in molding my career as an actor. My association with NFDC dates back to the early 80s and it’s these films that have helped me establish as an all rounded actor. NFDC has now bestowed me with this golden responsibility & opportunity to promote Cinemas of India and help in the development of the Indian film Industry on a global platform.”
NFDC is also getting a capital infusion from the government. The Information and broadcasting ministry is pumping in Rs 36 crore to the equity of NFDC, to help the organisation revamp its infrastructure, promote Indian cinema internationally and enhance production capabilities.
The equity infusion comes at a time when the Indian film industry is on the threshold of global recognition. NFDC was in the vanguard of 1980s cinema, producing cutting edge work in movies such as Ardh Satya, Jaane Bhi Do Yaron, Mirch Masala, Dharavi, Bhavani Bhavai and Current.
“The equity infusion was critical for NFDC due to escalating production costs. We are also focusing on giving our productions a wide release. Distribution is a challenge and our endeavour is to ensure that all our films are widely released.” said Nina Gupta, Managing director, NFDC.
NFDC is also looking at digitising its library of over 125 titles, a mammoth task according toGupta. The ministry has also made a grant of Rs 30 crore over five years to NFDC for film production in regional languages by first-time filmmakers. It has already announced three co-productions with NDTV Imagine, Mirchi Movies Moxie Entertainment this year. On the regional front, NFDC will releasing Bioscope as a solo production film from the NFDC stable this year.
Actor Om Puri has been appointed chairman of NFDC. The focus will be on script writing and screen play, which the organisation thinks needs attention. NFDC has also introduced a concept termed ‘Co-operatives’, which will include established actors of the film industry if a script or a film demands so.
“A unanimous arrangement will be reached between NFDC as a production house and the cast & crew of a particular film, wherein after deciding on the script, NFDC will approach them with an offer to work in the film on a subsidized fee,” said Gupta.
If the film becomes a success in the box office, the profit garnered will be shared between all the personnel associated with the project on their actual cost basis. The idea behind this concept is to give a boost to film makers with experiential and viable scripts, within limited budgets. This proposal will help procuring prominent talent for small budget films.