UK Govt gives green signal to News Corp for BSkyB takeover

March 27, 2011

Media baron, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp has taken a huge step forward. The UK government has cleared the way for the company to fully acquire satellite television company British Sky Broadcasting Group Plc (BSkyB). The government gave the signal after accepting News Corp’s undertakings on media plurality concerns.

News Corp, which is the world’s third-largest media conglomerate and owns Fox Broadcasting, 20th Century Fox movie studios, The Wall Street Journal, The Sun, The Times and The Sunday Times, had earlier in June 2010 announced its intentions to take over Britain’s largest pay TV operator BSkyB completely.

News Corp currently owns around 39 per cent of BSkyB and plans to buy the remaining 61-per cent stake for a sum of almost £7.8 billion ($12.7 billion).

The government has also issued a notice of consultation seeking views as to whether News Corp’s undertakings are sufficient after considering that it is likely to draw heavy criticism from the public on media plurality raised by the merger. The closing date for responses is fixed as 21 March.

News Corp has offered to distribute the shares in the company amongst the existing shareholders of BSkyB in line with their shareholdings, with News Corp retaining a 39 per cent stake.

ESS joints up with LiveShare By Cooliris for World Cup 2011

March 27, 2011

Now cricket fans can enjoy behind-the-scenes look at the World’s biggest sporting event World Cup 2011 by using LiveShare by Cooliris, as ESPN Star Sport (ESS) and Cooliris have announced a partnership.

LiveShare allows fans worldwide to follow ESS’ official World Cup photo stream in real-time featuring exclusive and never-seen-before behind-the-cameras coverage of the event and is the first in Asia to allow their fans to experience the key highlights of the action around the sport.

Fans can share the live stream with their groups of friends via, Facebook, Twitter and email or create their own streams with the LiveShare application.

LiveShare by Cooliris will be featured online alongside all major games and will be available for free to consumers at, as well as via the LiveShare mobile app, which is available at the iTunes App Store, the Android Marketplace, and the Windows Phone Marketplace.

Major US entertainment brands such as Ozzy Osbourne, the Stanford Cardinal and Michael Bublé already use LiveShare to engage directly with fans.

Big CBS now available on Videocaon d2h

March 27, 2011

Big CBS Networks has signed a distribution deal with Videocon d2h to expand its channel’s reach further.

Big CBS Networks is a joint venture between Reliance Broadcast Network and CBS Studios International. It currently has its presence on Sun Direct and Reliance Digital.

Big Broadcasting COO Ashutosh said that the deal was perfectly timed. He also added that the company wished that it would strengthen its DTH distribution platform through the alliance.

Videocon Group Director Saurabh Dhoot said that with the new channel on board, Videocon d2h customers could now get the best of choice content of some of the biggest US based shows, direct into their living room.

NDTV eyes investors to pull out MetroNation Chennai

March 2, 2011

NDTV Ltd. has decided to get strategic investors for its joint venture company, MetroNation Chennai Television Limited. The company which was launched in 2009, operates a news cum infotainment channel and has been making losses recently.

NDTV has a 51 per cent share while Kasturi and Sons (Hindu Group) the remaining 49 per cent in the company. The company has incurred losses amounting to Rs. 275.1 million.

NDTV Group chief executive officer KVL Narayan Rao confirmed that NDTV is considering getting strategic investment in MetroNation Chennai Television. He also added that they would be increasing the Tamil content in the channel.

The company has a total of Rs. 208.7 million in investment, loans and reaceivables. This was carried off by NDTV at book values since the management expects to be able to realise these assets in full.

The amount of capital and its possible investor however are yet unknown as Rao refused from revealing any knowledge regarding the same.

Ofcom raps Sky Sports for breaching Broadcast Code

March 2, 2011

Media regulator Ofcom pulled up Sky Sports after it received complaints of “blatant” and “irrelevant” logos for technology partner EA Sports appearing on Sky Sports 2 match facts graphics.

The incident occurred during the live coverage of the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester United last year on September 11.

The logo for the video games manufacturer appeared for a total of 14 times during the games pre- and post-match comment, graphic on-screen displays of statistics and match facts.

This made a viewer complain that the logos inclusion was “irrelevant”, “unnecessary” and “blatant”.

Following the complaint, Ofcom asked for information on EA’s role in connection with the match data and any contractual arrangements that related to the appearance of the on-screen branding.

Sky Sports however confirmed that the branding was not linked to any programme sponsorship arrangements with EA.

According to Sky Sports’ explanation, EA was contracted to the Premier League as the “Official Sports Technology Partner” and the broadcaster understood that this arrangement included sponsorship of the league itself, a sponsor presence at matches, and in other Premier League-controlled properties, including the overseas broadcast feed.

The broadcaster also explained that, as part of its agreement with the Premier League for the live broadcast of certain matches, it is required, subject to applicable laws and the Ofcom codes, to provide an on-screen credit for the “Official Technology Partner”.

It stated that its editorial control was independent throughout, including where credits were given for EA or any other Premier League sponsor and that “no specific product or service was mentioned” and that no “sales messages” were present as part of the EA Sports logos, but that, “on this occasion, the application of the EA on-screen credit should have been subject to greater editorial judgement given the high-scoring nature of this particular game, which meant the credit was displayed on a higher than normal number of occasions”.

Sky accepted that its editorial policy in that respect should be “clarified”.

In reply, Ofcom noted that “sports coverage is a genre in which branding and general commercial exposure can be expected” and that “audiences generally accept and understand that branding”.

Ofcom also stated that the 14 repeated appearances of the logo was a breach of Rule 10.3 of the Broadcast Code by the broadcaster, which prohibits undue prominence of a product in programming.

Adding that no further action would be taken against Sky Sports, Ofcom said that all broadcasters must comply with the current Broadcast Code.

Maurya TV celebrates its first birthday

March 2, 2011

‘Maurya’ completed first year of its meaningful journey on the highly volatile terrain of television news and entertainment, specially in Bihar and Jharkhand, on 2nd February, 2011. Exactly a year back the channel was launched by Nitish Kumar, the chief minister of Bihar, in presence of star cast of the super hit film ‘Rajneeti’, like Katrina Kaif, Arjun Rampal, Manoj Vajpai. In light of the glittering and esteemed presence of numerous illustrious personalities from film and politics, it was an event on the scale that Patna had seldom seen. Main reason for the grand show was that the brain behind ‘Maurya’ was a leading light of hindi film and entertainment industry, Prakash Jha.

Many eyebrows were raised, as it was the first TV channel to be launched completely from Patna. All speculations and doubts were put to rest when ‘Maurya’ created history by reaching the number one spot in Bihar and Jharkhand in five months flat, more specifically on 14th July. That it was no flash in a pan was proved when it remained on the number one position for the next 11 out of 15 months. Director of the channel, Manish Jha attributes its success to its solid and credible content. Mr Jha underlined the fact that ‘Maurya’ purposely avoided sensationalism and banked on hardcore news.

Many of the shows on ‘Maurya’ have been super duper hits during last one year. ‘Rajneeti Khel Satta Ka’, ‘Satta Sangram’, ‘Baal Kee Khal’, ‘Saas Kee Chhaunk Bahu Ka Tarka’, ‘Jurm Ka Jaal’, ‘Law and Order’, ‘Patna Fighters’, ‘Total Filmy’, ‘Patna Live’, ‘Jyotish Live’, ‘Ranbhumi’, ‘Dil Kee Baat Prakash Ke Saath’, ‘Khas Mulaqat’, ‘Chalte Chalte’, ‘Baat Bolegi’, ‘Bihar Reporter’, ‘Jharkhand Reporter’, ‘Khabren Khatakhat’ etc… are among a series of popular programmes, which made the viewers crazy about ‘Maurya’ since 2nd February, 2010.

The ups and downs of TRPs are a fact of life in television industry, and ‘Maurya’ has had its share of both; yet the committed team of ‘Maurya’ continues to be full of life and enthusiasm. New shows are being churned out on regular basis. Executive Editor, Kumar Raajesh of Aaj Tak fame is leading its editorial team towards strengthening its content, with active support from Navendu, the Political Editor and another senior journalist Amitabh Srivastava. While Sunil Pandey, the Output Head and Prem Kumar, the Input Head is actively contributing towards taking ‘Maurya’ to greater heights, Kumar Raajesh, himself is leading the Anchoring team as well along with Wesal Azam. Having had his fruitful innings in Sahara Samay and News 11, Manoj Srivastava is now leading the ‘Maurya’ team to glory in Jharkhand.

On occasion of its first birthday ‘Maurya’ management organized a grand gala celebration of its entire enthusiastic team in Hotel Patliputra Ashoka on Wednesday, the 2nd February 2011. Lots of music, dance, fun and mouth watering food were available on platter during that celebration.

Maa TV adds to more channels to its fold

March 2, 2011

Maa TV Network launched two new channels on Friday. The channels launched by the Hyderabad based Telegu TV network included a movie and kids channel titled Maa Movies and Maa Junior respectively.

The addition of these two new channels increased the network’s number of channels to four. Previous channels include entertainment channel Maa TV and music channel Maa Music.

Describing the launch as a major step, Maa TV Network Chairman, N Prasad said that Maa TV’s vision was to be recognized worldwide as a network that delivered pleasant and wholesome entertainment.

On the hiring of Tollywood actor, Ram Charan, as a director on the network’s board, Prasad stated that as an icon of the new generation, Charan would add value to the network’s brand and contribute his innovative thoughts on entertainment programming.

Al Jazeera to expand reach to Turkey

March 2, 2011

Al Jazeera has decided to expand its reach further to Turkey by launching a Turkish news channel. Al Jazeera has offered Cine 5 television channel a whooping amount of $21 million to acquire the Turkish news channel.

On Monday, the bid by Al Jazeera was the only bid for Cine 5 television channel which had previously been seized by the government. It was the fifth time that the channel was auctioned yet Al Jazeera’s offer was just above half the appraisal rate of $40 million, decided by the Savings Deposit and Insurance Fund (SDIF) said a report in the Hurriyet Daily News.

Zee Backs Mobile Video

February 14, 2011

Mobile video has one major supporter – Zee Entertainment Enterprises head Punit Goenka. The Indian TV giant’s MD and CEO threw his weight behind the emerging medium during pay-TV body Casbaa’s recent annual convention in Hong Kong.

“This is the way of the future,” he said, speaking days before the launch of India’s first 3G services. “This is what is going to drive content for us.”

In an on-stage interview, Goenka revealed that he was prepared to invest at least 10% of Zee’s profits into developing mobile, echoing the approach the broadcaster took when it made its first forays in Indian markets outside its Hindi-speaking stronghold.

Goenka anticipates a rapid growth in mobile content consumption over the next three to five years, as young Indians, quick to adopt new technology, will be less willing than their parents to sit passively in front of a TV. “I have always believed India is a wireless country,” he said.

A new kind of content
Past experience shows that traditional content creators have struggled with new media, prompting Goenka to recruit a specialist mobile production team that understands technology and the role it plays in young people’s lives.

“I’ve already got a good bunch of youngsters working on this,” Goenka said, “and you’ll see more coming out over the next few years.”

The introduction of 3G services should help boost the number of people accessing the internet from their mobile phones in India from 75 million today to 325 million by 2015, predicted Neeraj Roy, MD and CEO of Indian digital content distributor Hungama Digital Media Entertainment, speaking on a separate conference panel focused on mobile.

By then, telcos should be making more than US$5 billion from value-added services, from around US$1.3 billion today.

“There are about 6.5 million transactions that happen on a daily basis, which are all paid for,” Roy said.

“Now with data being enabled on our networks, there’s going to be growing opportunity for video consumption and so on, albeit in moderation and at price points people have to be accustomed to, as far as India is concerned.”

Product versus business model
Mobile is far from becoming an accepted screen for watching TV, however. For example, only one in 25 people in Asia-Pacific who can watch video on their handsets have actually done so, noted Nicholas Wodtke, Disney Media Distribution’s regional business development and new media VP.

Meanwhile, mobile chip maker Qualcomm, one of the biggest investors in mobile broadcast technology, has decided to shutter its mobile TV service MediaFlo.

The move puts a major dampener on mobile TV’s future prospects, but it was the business model rather than the product that was at fault, argued Qualcomm MediaFlo business development director Ali Zamiri.

“Maybe if we had partnered early on with content providers and operators, forming a cohesive unit and agreeing on a certain business model, we probably would have had a better result and higher subscriber take-up,” Zamiri said.

Qualcomm had set up the network itself, wholesaling content it had aggregated through operators at US$15/month – a price few consumers were willing to pay for the channels on offer.

Cheaper phones, more viewing
Nonetheless, falling prices for smartphones, which provide a much improved viewing experience, hint at a brighter future for mobile video.

Increasing smartphone penetration in Hong Kong has resulted in a sharp increase in viewing per user, reported Han Willem Kotterman, chief strategy officer for Hong Kong network CSL.

“We see mass uptake,” Kotterman predicted, pointing out that data traffic on CSL’s network has already increased by 50 times within one year. “The issue is how are operators going to provide for the bandwidth, and that’s an issue we’re struggling with.”

This spells an end to so-called all-you-can-eat data services, the original stimulus for mobile internet use, a move AT&T has already taken in the US.

It will be a bold move to follow suit in Hong Kong, where five competing operators are all offering unlimited data packages at competitive prices.

Prices must rise, Kotterman argued, so operators can invest in additional bandwidth. “I think at some point, consumers will be willing to pay for a very good experience,” he said. “That’s what we are investing for.”

India’s youth networks get local bent The battle for India’s youth TV market is heating up.

February 14, 2011

Bindass, Indian media conglom UTV’s 3-year-old Hindi-language channel for 18- to 25-year-olds, has stolen the ratings crown away from music giants Viacom’s MTV and Fox’s Channel V, which have slugged it out for the No. 1 spot in the age group for the past 15 years.

More than that, Bindass’ success has spurred its rivals to broaden their content to include more locally made shows.

“MTV and Channel V are great brands, but we always felt that there was a need for a strongly localized Indian brand,” says Bindass CEO Zarina Mehta.

Bindass bowed in 2007 with a mix of music and fiction but, despite a hit comedy — “Sun yaar chill maar,” about a group of college pranksters — it struggled to make headway against its rivals. The recession hit soon after, and the channel had to drastically cut its programming budget.

MTV and V, which began as English-language music channels in the mid-1990s and later added Bollywood hits to satisfy a demand for local music, in recent years included a few reality and fiction shows to their skeds.

MTV enjoyed some success with bike-based show “Roadies” but V lost its way. “We didn’t have clear focus on what we wanted the channel to be; I guess it was drifting,” says V channel head Prem Kamath, who was brought in from sister channel Star to resuscitate the brand.

Bindass re-launched in 2009, with a slew of edgy local reality shows, led by the popular “Emotional atyachar,” which was based on young people questioning their partners’ fidelity.

Anil Wanvari, editor, says the show “changed the entire perception of what youths are willing to watch. It shook the market.”

Bindass’ mix of 51% reality, 40% music and 9% films proved potent. It has topped the A18-24 ratings for the past five months in cities with populations of more than a million in the Hindi-speaking market — once the preserve of MTV and V — according to AC Nielsen subsid Television Audience Measurement.

Bindass’ rivals have countered by widening their distribution into smaller towns where it has no penetration.

In doing so, MTV and Channel V have had to revamp their programming to attract a more rural audience.

V head of content Sheetal Sudhir says the first thing it did was cut music down from 90% to 20% of its sked because there were so many channels playing the same Bollywood music that there was no way to differentiate content among providers.

“We are now appealing to youths in smaller towns by using them in our content,” Sudhir says. “Hence it is inclusive, not exclusive.”

MTV upped its show content to 50% of programming, but as channel head Aditya Swamy says, “Music is the heart of MTV; it always has been and always will be.” However, Swamy notes that the profile of people winning MTV’s reality shows has changed. “They are from the smaller towns and are eager to prove a point to their cool dude counterparts in the big cities.”

V and MTV are moving beyond the TV space to attract ads. They are engaging with youngsters on social networks, university fests, cafes and salons and via merchandising to present the widest reach for advertisers.

“TV is just one of our businesses,” Swamy says. “If our only benchmark is ratings, then life becomes very one-dimensional.”

Going local has worked for V and MTV. For V in particular, 2010 has seen a remarkable return from the doldrums, due to popular shows like “Roomies,” “Dare to Date” and “Lovenet.”

Overall, in Asia, the trend is increasingly toward local content to attract younger viewers.

“The youth segment is being tapped heavily through online, especially in China, Korea and Japan,” says Vivek Couto, exec director of research for film at Media Partners Asia. “In Southeast Asia, TV still has a strong role in the youth segment, especially in Thailand and the Philippines.

“One key development has been the continued growth of local brands — in Korea, there are more than three strong local music and youth brands, mostly controlled by the CJ Group; in China, you have Shanghai Media Group and a host of other satellite broadcasters; in Thailand there’s entertainment major GMM Grammy, which is now producing satellite channels.”

Back in India, despite the popularity of Bindass, MTV and V, there remains one overarching fact: The moment a popular Bollywood film or a cricket match airs, youngsters switch over.