Fragmentation hitting Indian television networks

Troubled scholars deliberated upon how fragmentation, convergence and the need to survive fierce competitive times in the television space, where the paradox of rising viewership with decreasing revenues was twisting every program, including news, into an entertainment format, at an international seminar here.

In a departure for Indian Institute of Advanced Studies (IIAS), a two day seminar on ‘50 years of Indain Television’ had philosophers, media teachers and professionals mark progress of the genre over half a century, how it had impacted society in Indian context and what challenges lay ahead.

Bhasker Das, executive president, Times group, in his presentation ‘Challenges facing the television industry and the road ahead’ said “new society paradoxes were that life had never been more difficult…because it has never been easier. In an interconnected society, global networks connect anyone to everyone else.”

It an age of ‘Any Time Media’ where the media universe was growing with more genres appearing on the horizon and despite viewership increasing, fragmentation was resulting in revenues reducing.

In a hyper competitive environment, the challenge is not only to survive by adapting to change but also the ability to identify emergent trends, envision a future and plan your successful place in it, said Das.

Ujjwal Chowdhury, who teaches at Symbiosis International University, Pune in his presentation ‘Indian news media: evolution & management, challenges ahead’ said that standalone TV channel was fast giving way to networks who were able to offer a bouquet of channels.

“Niche channels with a target audience was an emerging trend,” he said adding, “an effective self governing regime for television networks needed to emerge unless leverage in given away to the government to intervene for enforcing one.”

Peter Ronald deSouza, director IIAS, said that to hold a seminar on Television was a departure for the institute, where scholars otherwise mostly deliberated upon historical and social issues. “This is emergence of a new world where we want philosophers to engage with TV,” he said.

The institute intends to publish an anthology, ‘Essays on Indian TV’ to mark the 50 years of Television in the country.

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