History has been created on Indian television. From the night of November 10 all the seven general entertainment channel networks – STAR India, Colors, Zee, Sony, NDTV Imagine, 9X and Sahara One, have been airing repeats of all their programmes. This will continue until the time the producers and the workers' union reach a mutually agreeable resolution.
"From tonight no original programming will be aired on any GEC", announced, Albert Almeida, business head, SET India, at the press meet held yesterday, where heads of almost all the GECs were present. He said that all the GECs were in a helpless state and have been dragged into a controversy, that primarily involves the producers and the workers. This is as per the memorandum that the broadcasters sent to them early this month seeking a resolution to the ongoing dispute. (Read memorandum).
On receiving the memorandum, the producers, represented by the Producers' Guild met up with the Federation of Western India Cine Employees (FWICE) to arrive at a sensible conclusion and resume smooth functioning of production. (Read more). However, the producers could not pacify the workers as the workers refrained from budging from their demands.
If the current demand of the workers are considered, the cost of production for a fiction episode could go up by 15 per cent.
As per the memo, November 9 was the deadline for the producers and workers to come up with a resolution, failing which the broadcasters were to boycott any new content from producers and run repeats of shows on their channels. Broadcasters have taken that big step, which they call it, the last resort. "We will continue to urge the parties to resolve the crisis. We don't wish to carry this on endlessly," Almeida said.
Why the producers aren't agreeing to give in to their demands? "We have contractual agreements with the producers. In this current environment, suddenly imposing an increase is arbitrary and unfair. We are happy to sit down and discuss but not in such an adhoc manner", Sameer Nair, CEO, NDTV Imagine explained. Punit Goenka, chief executive officer, ZEEL, added, "This unilateral increase in cost is not acceptable. However, we have stood by the producers and will continue to do so."
Uday Shankar, CEO, STAR India said that given the current economic crisis, of which the broadcast industry is a part, no further liability is sustainable. "We have been forced to deny our viewers their daily dose of entertainment. We are as much a victim of this as are the viewers," he stated.
From now on, hopefully not indefinitely, GECs will air repeats after repeats of shows with only one exception. Bigg Boss on Colors will continue as per schedule. Because of logistical reasons the channel will be allowed to air fresh episodes of the show, which is slated to end in ten days. Meanwhile, no channel is planning to do anything innovative or tactical to grab eyeballs. "None of us will use any tactics and vie for ratings in this period. That's what we have decided", Shankar claimed. In fact, as per a well-informed source, the broadcasters informally approached TAM (Television Audience Measurement) and aMap to not reveal data for this period, given the situation.
None of the advertisers on any of the GECs have reportedly withdrawn or asked for a concession. The broadcasters have taken the ISA and the AAAI in to confidence. AAAI has sent out a mail to the media planning and advertising fraternity to support the broadcasters' decision for a certain period of time.
"If we don't support the Hindi GECs, they will have to give in to the demands of the workers, and if that happens, we are the ones who will have to shell out more eventually," says a Mumbai-based media planner. Nair didn't rule out the possibility of a rebate or discount being offered to advertisers a few weeks later if the situation doesn't improve.
Even now, the broadcasters are in touch with the producers, trying to resolve the dispute. None of the channel heads could ascertain how long the fresh programming black-out will continue. But all hope was not lost, as everyone believed that good sense will prevail and it will be light, camera, action once again.
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6 months ago