Jan 13, 2009

Business - Murdochisation of Indian Media

Khushboo Tanna

MICA’s two-day conference, called Chutnefying English, was held on January 10 and 11 at the Le Meridian hotel in Mumbai.

Day 2 started with a paper presentation by Professor Daya Thussu, who teaches international communication at the University of Westminster in the UK. His paper sketched the dominant position of Rupert Murdoch’s television channels, attributing their primacy to localised strategies that prioritise local content over global content.

Thussu started his session by saying that there was a merger between information and entertainment, which was called infotainment, and this phenomenon was happening globally now.

He then gave a snapshot of the Indian television industry and said that 73 per cent of broadcasters’ revenue came from advertising, while the remaining 27 per cent was pooled in by subscriptions. Television is the fastest growing industry in India and it is projected to reach $23 billion by 2011.

To substantiate his statement, Thussu shared some data from a research study that was undertaken by FICCI in 2007. The data showed that television accounted for 46 per cent of the ad industry, which was worth around $3.5 billion at the time. The growth has happened across genres, including news. He also said that India has more than 65 news channels, which makes it the country with the largest number of news channels in the world.

This can be credited to the fact that local news and entertainment channels are tying up with companies that have a global presence. He gave the examples of the news channel, STAR News, and the entertainment channel, STAR One, which are both part of News Corp.

He called this content integration the Murdochisation of media in India. He shared some firsts created by Rupert Murdoch and said that he helped in the launch of the country’s first music channel, Channel V. He also helped to establish STAR News, which was India’s first 24x7 news channel. He found success again when he localised the international game show, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, as Kaun Banega Crorepati?

Thussu said that the three Cs of Hinglish entertainment are crime, cricket and cinema. He explained that Bollywood was the most prominent of the three and that traces of Bollywood can be found in the other two. Bollywood films are shown in more than 70 countries of the world and even Hollywood producers and actors are slowly and steadily becoming a part of Bollywood.

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