Archive for January, 2009

G Ramprasad quits Zee South as CEO

January 21, 2009

G Ramprasad, CEO, Zee South, the South India division of Zee Entertainment Enterprises, has put in his papers after having been with the company for about a year. At Zee South, Ramprasad saw through the launch of Zee Tamil, a Tamil GEC, in October 2008.

Speaking to us, Ramprasad said, “I have quit the company earlier this week and I am considering quite a few options that are at hand. It was a great experience at Zee.” However, he declined to comment on whether he would continue to be in the media industry in his next assignment.

Prior to joining Zee, Ramprasad was with the Murugappa Group as CEO of the Parryware business, followed by president of TI Cycles of the same group, where he was instrumental in effecting a turnaround of TI Cycles after taking charge in April 2005.

Prior to the successful stint of nearly nine years with the Murugappa Group, Ramprasad was with Hindustan Lever Ltd (now Hindustan Unilever) in sales and operations functions. He has also been associated with Sara Lee in India.

Ramprasad, who passed out of IIM Calcutta in 1984, attended the Senior Executive Program of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA in 2001.

Big FM Bangalore launches ‘Bitti Harusha Idi Varusha’

January 21, 2009

Big FM Bangalore has embarked on an initiative to ease the financial burden through a contest christened as ‘Bitti Harusha Idi Varusha’. The contest, which commenced on January 8 and will continue till January 14, is aimed at giving listeners the opportunity to win something for free for an entire year this Sankranti.

A combination of on and off-air events, the campaign is essentially a simple fun quiz, aimed at testing the knowledge of Big FM listeners around recession and jobs. The Big Ticket shall entitle winners to an annual free supply of groceries, gym memberships, gold jewellery, apparels and sarees, fitness and beauty vouchers, and much more.

While six winners will be declared each day, the grand finale is something to be looked forward to, which is scheduled to be held on January 13, 2009 at a popular mall, where 10 shortlisted listeners would be quizzed and fight for big prizes to last them an entire year.

Sunil Kumaran, head, Big FM – Karnataka & Kerala, said, “We are committed to creating superlative content and entertaining our listeners by providing them wholesome entertainment while addressing their need requirements.”

“‘Bitti Harusha Idi Varusha’ has been conceptualised keeping in mind the prevailing mood of the listeners, and we are confident of receiving packed participation from our listeners, who have made us the No. 1 station in the city.” Sunil adds.

UP news channel Jan Sandesh launches

January 21, 2009
Uttar Pradesh is emerging as the hot bed for news channels ahead of elections. Jan Sandesh is the latest to launch, aiming to garner local audiences in this politically active market.

Headquartered in a fully equipped studio in Film City, Noida, the channel will rely on its four OB-Vans, 11 bureaus and 75 stringers across Uttar Pradesh for news.           The channel has the tag line “Apna Pradesh, Apna Desh.” The programming line-up includes Good Morning UP and shows based on health, food, film, travel, astrology, devotional, women’s special, children, youth and career, comedy and variety.

“We have launched the channel and are available on cable networks across the state except on DEN. Soon we will expand this reach to MP, Punjab, Delhi, Rajasthan and other places where there is a sizeable UP population,” says Deepak Bajaj, the channel head of Jan Sandesh.

The channel has roped in Girish Juneja as executive editor for news and programming. He moves in from CNEB news channel where he was creative and programming head.

Sahara is the only player which runs a local news channel in UP. Zee is also planing to soon launch a regional channel in UP.

Sun TV weighs Hindi GEC

January 21, 2009

The tight liquidity market may have started pinching many media companies, but for some who are sitting on a pile of cash it is offering opportunities. Sun TV Network Ltd, a dominant regional broadcaster in the south, is exploring opportunities to enter the Hindi general entertainment channel space.
“The company is weighing options to get into the Hindi GEC space through the acquisition route if valuations are attractive. It has an excess of Rs 4 billion in cash,” a source close to the company says.

Sun TV officials could not be reached for comments.

Sun TV already has a national footprint in FM radio and has emerged as one of the leading players with 44 operational stations. It also holds 49 per cent in Red FM through subsidiary company South Asia FM.

The Hindi GEC space has seen a flurry of activity with new launches like NDTV Imagine, 9X and Colors.

Sun TV continues to grip the south Indian market despite increasing competition and expects to sustain a double digit effective advertising growth. The company’s pay revenues could jump from Rs 110 million in FY’08 to Rs 600 million in FY’09.

Popeye enters public domain in Europe

January 4, 2009
The copyright on the cartoon character Popeye has expired to thrust it into the public domain in Europe. According to the Europe copyright law, an author’s rights lay protected only until 70 years after his/her death.

Elzie Segar, creator of this spinach-munching character, died at the age of 43 in 1938.


Also, Britain’s copyright law is such that now anyone can sell merchandise like posters and T-shirts using Segar’s Popeye artwork, and even create new Popeye comics and TV series, without permission and without having to pay any sort of royalty.


In the US, however, Popeye will remain copyrighted until 2024 as US protects rights for 95 years after the author’s death.

Times Now No.1 in 2008 ( and now )

January 4, 2009

TIMES NOW the most watched 24 hour English news channel emerges as the no.1 channel in 2008 according to the audience measurement data released by TAM (Television Audience Measurement). TIMES NOW’s news-centric strategy combined with its superior content has contributed towards establishing TIMES NOW as the undisputed leader in English News Channel space in India.


Amongst CS Male 25+ SEC AB, 1Million plus markets TIMES NOW was at No.1 position for 29 weeks out of 52 in 2008 against 18 for NDTV and CNN-IBN for 9 weeks. In terms of channel viewer ship share TIMES NOW garnered an average channel share of 28% in comparison to NDTV 26% & CNN-IBN 22% for the entire year.


Amongst all adults (CS15+, 1 Million + markets) TIMES NOW was at No.1 position for 32 weeks out of 52 with NDTV at 28 and CNNIBN at 4.


2008 has seen events that have redefined television journalism as we know it – Key events like the Union Budget, the IPL finals, Jaipur blast, the Trust vote of the UPA Government, US elections, Mumbai Terror Attacks and the recently concluded State Elections. TIMES NOW has consistently scored over competition and garnered the highest share in each of these key events.


Speaking about the year Mr. Chintamani Rao, CEO TIMES NOW says, “The battle of the news marketplace is fought every day of the week, every hour of the day. TIMES NOW has made it its mission to be ‘Always with the news’ – whether it’s the big events or it’s the daily news; triumph or tragedy. These numbers tell us that what we do is meaningful to the viewers for whom we work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”


It’s been only 3 years since launch and TIMES NOW has scripted a growth story in TV news unparalleled in terms of traction in viewership, leading over competition and becoming the most watched and preferred English news channel. News relevant to an urban audience in areas of politics, economics, sports, entertainment in India and across the world has resulted in TIMES NOW becoming a daily habit of viewers across the country to catch their news needs. The focus on news, responsible and unbiased reporting and an unparalleled passion for news journalism gives TIMES NOW the clear edge over competition thus dethroning NDTV to emerge as the undisputed leader in English news space.


The New Year will see the channel remain committed to asking tough, incisive and often uncomfortable questions to give the viewer the sharpest perspective on news.

South Asia FM to host Kalaa Awards 2009 on January 24

January 4, 2009


KAL Radio Ltd’s South Asia FM Karnataka will host the Kalaa Awards 2009 to felicitate the best in the Kannada film music industry on January 24, 2009 in Bangalore. KAL Radio Ltd is promoted by the Sun TV Network.

Sathish Chandra, programming director, SFM Karnataka, says, “Radio stations depend mainly on the film music industry, nothing has been done in the past to acknowledge its contribution. The Kalaa Awards are our way of giving back to the industry for its contribution to our success over the two years of our existence.”

There are no nominations for the awards. Listeners from Bangalore, Mangalore, Mysore and Gulbarga were requested to vote through SMS for the various categories, which include Best Music Composer, Best Lyricist, Best Female Singer, Best Male Singer and Best Song of 2008.

A Special Award and a Music Icon of the Year 2008 Award will be given to the most famous names in the Kannada film industry for significant contributions. The listeners who send in the maximum SMS’s will get an opportunity to present the Kalaa Award – Best Singer (Male and Female) to the recipients on January 24. They will also get gold coins and customised Kalaa Awards goody bags.

On the awards night, the station will host an hour-long special programme interspersed with messages from the winners and their songs across all four stations in Karnataka. 

“Our station will be changing the flow of the programmes for the day.We will play the tracks selected by the listeners and try to be on air from the venue. There will be feeds from the winners interacting with the radio jockeys on air,” says Chandra.

TV TOP 10 2008

January 4, 2009




MUMBAI: As 2008 draws to a close, we decided to jot down the “Top 10” highlights in Indian television during the year. The list is not exhaustive and is not chronological nor in order of importance, but it randomly represents what we thought were happenings that impacted the business in a significant manner.


1 TV Workers shutdown: The TV industry strike which led to reruns appearing on TV for the first time in the history of Indian television. The strike continued for two weeks, until a settlement was reached wherein producers ended up paying extra for technical, and other crew.

2 General entertainment warfare:The emergence of Colors – a partnership between US media giant Viacom and Indian titan the Network18 group – as a strong No 2 to Star Plus, and a great competitor to Zee TV which was pushed to the No 3 spot. Colors use of differentiated and disruptive programming enamoured viewers and was inspiring imitators as the year was ending. The subdued but consistent performance of NDTV Imagine from the NDTV stable, and the expensive expansion of INX Media under the stewardship of Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, followed by its collapse, and resuscitation all added to the GEC drama.

3 A new programming era: Long running saas-bahu soaps such asKyuunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi, Kasautii Zindagii Kay, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii – were phased out by Star Plus impacting production superstar Balaji Telefilms to a large extent. It was the end of a long successful partnership even as Ekta Kapoor was battling to bring Balaji back in the success sweepstakes as the year was ending. The year also saw the emergence of Sphere Origin (Balika Vadhu), and Directors Kut (Sapna Babul Ka-Bidaii) as major production powerhouses. Talent hunts and reality shows proliferated during 2008.

4 Cash-rich IPL: A new entertainment format of the game became a runaway success as the largest cricket viewing nation in the world got a taste of the 20-20 over format, and took to like water to a thirsty man. A new sports czar was anointed in IPL commissioner Lalit Modi who believed in the format. And the Sony Entertainment Television group’s gamble paying nearly a billion for its television rights paid off handsomely for its CEO Kunal Dasgupta.

5 Terror Strike on Mumbai: The shocking and unbridled coverage of the Mumbai terror attacks by news television channels and the public outrage against that, followed by a realisation by all concerned that media crises management needs to be understood and implemented by all those involved including government, army, news media etc.

6 DTH spreads: The growth of direct-to-home sector with the launch of Big TV and Airtel Digital TV, along with DD Direct Plus, Tata Sky, DishTV and Sun Direct makes India one of the few multiplatform markets in the world. Low ARPUs still remain a concern.

7 Skyrocketing costs: The runaway increase in cost of producing television. Artiste costs rose as almost every second show signed on celebrities and helped create or rescue careers of no names and has-beens. Distribution costs of channels too rose manifold with cable operators and MSOs demanding unimaginable carriage fees for priority carriage on their networks. Distributor Star Den was promoted by two rival groups Network 18 and Star India even as MSOs like Digicable and DEN made their debuts.

Kalanidhi Maran & M Karunanidhi

8 Peace pipe: As the year was ending, Sun TV’s Kalanidhi and Dayanidhi Maran and his grand uncle DMK chief M Karunanidhi decided to bury their differences and not work against each other. The rapprochement could result in the emergence of an even bigger – almost unsurmountable – powerhouse in the south. This also resulted in a PE firm Nalanda Capital buying seven million shares in Sun TV for Rs 1 billion.

9 The slowdown: The subprime crises in the US lead to a slowdown worldwide. Even though India has been insulated, the pulling out of money from the country lead to a stockmarket crash. It in turn has impacted the balance sheets of big advertising spenders and media companies. The second half of 2009 is expected to bruise media companies badly as corporate India struggles with a slowing economy. Layoffs were becoming rampant as almost every player looked at ways to survive in the imminent tough times.10 Specialisation spread: The year saw the launch of specialized new channels to cater to the needs of upscale and urban audiences. For movie and entertainment buffs it was a feast galore. Showbiz, NDTV Lumiere, World Movies, E24, Firangi, Topper TV, were some of the new specialized niche offerings. The year probably will go down in history as the one which had the maximum launches. How many will survive only time will thrive as the Indian television industry continues to attract investment from both overseas and domestically.