Monday, April 30, 2007

Indian mangoes reach US after 18 years

The first batch of 150 boxes of choicest Alphonso and Kesari mangoes in 18 years arrived in New York from India to the delight of Indians who had been lusting for luscious fruit for years.
"But they would have to wait for a few more days before they can buy them in the market as the fruit needs to be ripened before being released for sale," said Bhaskar Savani who is distributor and was personally present at the airport when the Air-India flight bringing the cargo landed late last night.

The formal launch of the mangoes will be done in Washington DC on May 1, he said.

Mangoes from Mexico and other Central American countries is available in the United States but Indians often complain that they do not taste like the ones India produces.

Nor do the Americans have the number of varieties available back home.

Savani said the distributors expect Langra, Chausa, Mallika and Dussheri to follow to give consumers a choice of varieties.

The distributors are in negotiations with Costco chain, which sells merchandise in bulk, for distributing the mangoes and some fast food chains have shown interest in retailing mango shakes.

The US had stopped import of mangoes from India 18 years ago as it felt Indian farmers were using too much pesticide. It has taken sustained negotiations over several years to get the fruit back into the US market.

The US Department of Agriculture has imposed the condition that the mangoes would be irradiated to ensure that that no exotic plant diseases are introduced in the country. However, irradiation also increases the shelf life of the fruit.

The distributors say that they expect a huge and ever increasing demand for the Indian mangoes with the rising Indian population here and locals developing taste for Indian varieties.

India is the largest producer of mangoes in the world, accounting for more than 50 per cent of the total output. It has some 1000 varieties.
Source : Financial Express

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Jai Hind TV to go on air in July

Adding to the increasing number of cable television channels in the state, the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC)-backed Jai Hind Television is all set to go on air this July.

Announcing the launch of Jai Hind TV, director and senior congressman M M Hassan said that the foundation stone for the studio complex would be laid at the Kinfra Film and Video Park premises at Kazhakkuttom, in the state capital suburbs, on May 1 by Defence minister and Congress party veteran A K Antony.

The news studio will be inaugurated by Kerala's minister for education MA Baby and the logo will be released by film-maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan.

Jai Hind TV, promoted jointly by the Bharat Broadcasting Network and Jai Hind Communications, will have KPCC on board with substantial stake in the venture.

Significantly, the channel, which has KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala at the helm of affairs as president of the venture, would be the Congress party's foray into the television scene in the state.

The CPI(M) already runs Malayalam Communications, which operates three channels under its fold - Kairali, Kairali People and We.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

UTV reports annual net profit of Rs 555 million

UTV Software Communications Limited has reported its results for the year ended March 31, 2007. Consolidated revenue of the company for the year is Rs 2,030 million and net profit is Rs 555 million.

The company has consolidated the financials of UTV-US, UTV-UK, UTV-Mauritius and Ignition Entertainment Ltd. The Board of Directors has taken on record the unaudited consolidated financial results of UTV Software Communications Limited and its subsidiaries.

UTV proposes to float its 100 per cent subsidiary UTV Motion Picture Plc based in Isle Of Man on London Stock Exchange’s AIM. This company, through its wholly owned subsidiary, will house all movie production businesses of the group, may they be Hindi, regional, Hollywood or animation movies.

Friday, April 27, 2007

HC directs MRTPC to probe into alleged bungling in KBC

The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices (MRTP) Commission to investigate accusation of financial bungling by the Star Plus channel in its KBC show.
A Division Bench of Justice Vikramjit Sen and Justice J P Singh asked the petitioner and the Star Plus to appear before the Commission on May 8.
"Keeping in view the contentions of the parties, importance and gravity of the allegations besides the larger interest of the general public, we deem it fit that the matter should be referred to MRTP Commission for investigation into the finances, chances of winning, element of allurement, misrepresentation, fraud and other related allegations," the Bench said.
"The Commission should implead computer experts or any other person or party who may have the know-how of finding out fraud, tricks or manipulation, if any, in the game," the Bench added.
The order came on a PIL filed by Anuj Kumar Bhati, who had sought a direction to the centre restraining Star India Private Ltd from airing the quiz show.
The petitioner also sought refund of the amount he allegedly incurred in his attempt to participate in the show.
He alleged that the producer had violated their own rules by repeatedly allowing their own employees and associates to take part in the KBC.
The court, in its order also referred to a TV news programme, which claimed to have shown alleged financial bungling by the producer in June, last year.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Brand Big B: Rs 50-cr deal with Unitech

Brand Bachchan is very much alive and kicking. Critics, who claimed that the king is losing his 'magic', may soon have to eat humble pie as Big B closes in on the country's largest endorsement deal at Rs 50 crore for real estate major Unitech. Together with this, the total value of endorsements signed by Mr Bachchan in the past few months has touched a whopping Rs 100 crore, which includes renewal of his ongoing contracts with Cadbury, Dabur, Luxor, S Kumars and Emami, among others.

ET learns that Big B has been recently signed on by Unitech for a two-year deal that involves just an eight-day stint in front of the camera. However, Unitech director Sanjay Chandra was non-committal. “It's not confirmed yet. When we sign him on, we'll let you know,” he told ET. However, a top executive from an ad agency that handles a host of real estate accounts was more forthcoming, albeit on condition of anonymity. “They (Unitech) had a certain kind of arrangement with Amitabh for a long time. There has been a mutual arrangement, which is now being worked out differently,” he pointed out.

In a recent assessment of the brand endorsement market, it was indicated that since the advent of KBC3, Shah Rukh Khan had displaced Mr Bachchan in the field of endorsements. But a month after KBC3 flagged off, dipping TRPs seem to have reaffirmed marketers' faith in Big B. In the past few months, they have renewed most of their endorsement contracts with him.

Moreover, Mr Bachchan's Rs 50-crore deal with Unitech dwarfs all other celebrity brand marriages - no one, not even SRK or Tendulkar, commands even a fourth of the nearly Rs 25-crore per annum from a single brand. Even the fastidious Aamir Khan, who endorses a handful of brands, including Coca-Cola, Toyota and Titan, charges Rs 4.5-5 crore a pop. For the records, now “rested” from the Bangladesh ODI tour, Tendulkar has a five-year, Rs 180-crore contract with Iconix, ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi's sports management arm.

According to media monitoring agency TAM India, Mr Bachchan also tops the number of brands endorsed, 41 in 2006, closely followed by SRK with 35. Tendulkar's mug adorns just 17 brands. The total market for brand endorsements in India is around Rs 250 crore per annum, according to CelebZ, a recent study by Group M's Mindshare Insights.

Along with existing endorsers, there have been new entrants like Binani Cement and Unitech in the Bachchan-alia. Dabur India, for instance, renewed its contract with Mr Bachchan last September for two years. Again, Luxor Writing Instruments signed on Big B last month for a three-year contract. “This is the seventh year that Mr Bachchan is a brand ambassador for Parker pens and he has been able to provide noticeability to the brand,” says Luxor Writing Instruments executive director Pooja Jain.

Asked how expensive Big B is, pat came the reply: “Anywhere to the tune of Rs 5-10 crore per brand he endorses.”

Of late, it's raining stars on the real estate sector. While Golden Grand has roped in Kajol-Ajay Devgan, EmGee has signed on Bipasha Basu and Shah Rukh Khan is firmly in place with DLF. Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan and his sons endorse Omaxe. But all these deals are sealed in the region of Rs 1-5 crore. In the past, Big B has endorsed Sahara City Homes, but with the astronomical Rs 50-crore Unitech deal, he has clearly set the Big Benchmark.
Source : Economic Times

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

ESPN STAR Sports to launch third channel ‘STAR Cricket’

ESPN STAR Sports has announced the launch of a dedicated cricket channel, STAR Cricket, especially for audiences in the Indian subcontinent and the new channel will commence transmission in June 2007. STAR Cricket will be the 15th channel launched by ESPN STAR Sports in the Asia Pacific region and the third in India.

RC Venkateish, Managing Director, ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd, said, “ESPN STAR Sports has recently acquired the rights to many major sports properties including the biggest cricket property in the world, the ICC global telecast rights. The two channels that we have are already brimming with high quality content. Going forward, we intend to further strengthen our content line-up both in cricket and other sports. The launch of STAR Cricket is part of our long-term strategy to further strengthen our offering to sports fans in the country.”

Venkateish added that STAR Cricket will showcase live India and non-India cricket. “We plan to add quality first class cricket coverage from around the globe as well. The channel will also showcase feature programming on cricket including reality shows, archival programming and magazine shows,” he said.

With the ICC telecast rights for the next eight years and rights from Test-playing nations like England and Australia, the ESPN STAR Sports (ESS) network is looking at a total of 24 Test matches and 42 ODIs in 2007 alone. In addition, the network will also telecast the ICC Twenty20 World Cup later this year featuring 27 matches.

With STAR Cricket coming on air in June, cricket fans will be able to watch the India tour of England where they will play four Tests and seven ODIs.

Commented Ravi Shastri, ESS expert commentator and the recently appointed manager of the Indian cricket team for the tour of Bangladesh, said, “There is a huge interest for live, quality, first class cricket action from the top Test playing countries as well as content meticulously customised for Indian audiences, which is what STAR Cricket would strive to provide its viewers.”

Harsha Bhogle, renowned cricket commentator, said, “I believe STAR Cricket will be everything a cricket channel should be with a combination of live cricket and specially produced programming. I hope a real cricket lover will feel he is at home with STAR Cricket for he will get to see more than international cricket. I would like to believe we will present cricket with a conscience.”

Source : exchange4media

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Abhiash wedding rights sold to UK TV

Rumours are rife that the Bachchans have struck a 5-crore deal with a channel.

Have the Bachchans sold the rights of the Abhiash wedding to the Travel & Living channel? According to rumours in Bollywood, a deal was reportedly struck for about Rs 5 crore, although it is learned that the amount could be a little more than that.

It was always thought that the Bachchans were keeping the local media at bay for commercial reasons. "If they had sold the rights to cover the wedding to a channel, then they couldn't possibly allow any Indian media to cover the event,"said a film industry source. According to industry insiders, "Even the photographers who shot the pictures have been bound under confidentiality contracts not to release or reveal any pictures to any media."

The Bachchans are believed to have negotiated with Hello, a top lifestyle magazine based in UK, but the deal fell through.

A proposal from an India-based television network too was sent to the Bachchans, but didn't find favour. Sources reveal that the Bachchans were looking for a foreign channel. And the one with which they struck the deal has a big viewership in the UK where there is a strong Indian population.

This deal is the first of its kind in the history of Bollywood. No other wedding has been sold to any media ever before. The Bachchans took a cue from the Liz Hurley and Arun Nayar wedding. The couple had sold the rights of their wedding for two million pounds to Hello magazine.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Uday Shankar headed to STAR India as COO

STAR India has not looked too far for a COO. The organisation has roped in STAR News CEO Uday Shankar for the post. With this, the three Presidents at STAR -- Paritosh Joshi, President-Sales, Ajay Vidyasagar who will be made President-Content & Communication, and Vijay Singh, President-Corporate Development & Strategy, will report to Shankar, who in turn will report to STAR Hong Kong and acting STAR India CEO Paul Aiello.

Internal sources further inform that it is yet not decided whether STAR will still continue the hunt for a CEO post this development, or Shankar would be subsequently elevated.

STAR India had both its CEOs -- Peter Mukerjea (CEO, STAR Group) and Sameer Nair (CEO, STAR Entertainment) quit earlier in the year. The dual unit structure is not in place at present. Following the exit of the two CEOs, STAR India has lost a significant number of people in its senior and middle-management positions.

This includes Senior Creative Director Shailja Kejriwal, Distribution Head Tony D’Silva, Legal Head Ajay Sharma and others like Juhi Ravindranath in Sales, Gaurav Gandhi in Programming and Karan Singh from operations -- and the list goes on.

Shankar will assume his new position soon. No details were available on his replacement at STAR News. Prior to STAR News, he was with Aaj Tak.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Ash-Abhishek in demand for endorsements

Bollywood couple Kajol and Ajay Devgan have already shown their star power in brand endorsement. But now they have serious competition from the star couple Aishwarya Rai and Abhishek Bachchan.

Advertising industry sources said several leading companies had already flocked to the latest couple in tinsel town for brand endorsements and the price they could command was estimated to be Rs 10-12 crore, which is substantially more than the Rs 6-8 crore charged by Mrs & Mr Devgan.

That’s not a surprise as Rai and the junior Bachchan are already hot property individually. While Rai endorses seven brands across eight categories, the junior Bachchan endorses 11 brands across nine categories (as of December 2006), according to AdEX India, a division of TAM Media Research.

Rai endorses global beauty and skincare brand L’Oreal Paris, Swiss watch brand Longines, Lux and Coke, among others. On the other hand, Abhishek has increased his endorsement rates by almost a crore after the success of his movies Bunty Aur Babli by Yash Raj Films and Mani Ratnam’s Guru. Currently, Bachchan endorses American Express, LG Electronics, and radio station Big 92.7 FM, among others.

Sunil Doshi,who handles Abhishek’s endorsements says, “Brands have indeed approached them for endorsements, but at the moment we are busy with the wedding. Interested brands can approach us after the wedding.”

The highest individual endorsement rate is enjoyed by Amitabh Bachchan, Aamir Khan and Shah Rukh Khan who charge around Rs 4-5 crore for a single brand. Adman Prasoon Joshi, the brain behind roping in Kajol-Ajay, said the Bachchan couple will certainly be mobbed by brands.

“People are excited about the couple and they have a top- of-the-mind recall. This will work wonders for brands, which sign them on, as people are eager to take a peep into their personal lives and want to see them on the screen together,” reasoned Joshi.

Source : Business Standard

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Star, Balaji in JV for regional channels

Star TV India will set up a joint venture with Balaji Telefilms to take on the regional channels . The venture will launch regional language entertainment channels.

The joint venture, 51 per cent of which will be owned by Star and 49 per cent by Balaji, will be headquartered in Chennai and will look at launching general entertainment channels in Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam in two to three years, Balaji Telefilms informed the Bombay Stock Exchange today.

Star India has 26 per cent stake in Balaji Telefilms, the production house that produces leading soaps for Star Plus and other Star channels. Star already has a Tamil channel called Star Vijay.

Under the joint venture, the two companies will combine their resources to infuse Star Vijay with the company content. Also, Balaji Telefilms will produce exclusive content for all the proposed regional language channels.

Sun TV is the market leader in most of the southern states and has a bouquet of 20 channels. The Eenadu group too has over 25 channels in different regional languages, but has a dominant market presence in Andhra Pradesh.

Balaji Chairman Jeetendra Kapoor said, “We are excited about this opportunity to strengthen our relationship with Star. We believe that combining the expertise and resources of the two companies will enable us to create the leading regional language TV network in the country. I am confident that our investment in this joint venture will generate significant value for our stakeholders.”

Balaji Telefilms has announced that its Managing Director and Chief Executive Shobha Kapoor has relinquished her role as CEO. Kapoor, however, will continue as the managing director. R Karthik, president, strategy and business development, will be the new chief executive.

Source : Business Standard

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Manorama Online claims 8th rank among global news portals

Malayala Manorama, the Kerala Media Giant has every reason to feel encouraged by the performance of its online initiative. In end-March, Manorama Online hit the eighth rank among global news portals/websites and was first among websites of Indian newspapers, according to rankings put out by It logged 180million page-views in March 2007. of India Online was next at No. 9.

Interestingly, Manorama Online is available in both English and Malayalam. Set up in 1997 as an HTML offering, today the website is state of the art and even offers Malayala Manorama as an e-paper free of cost.

Manorama Online today is a full-fledged portal offering over 22 channels in English and Malayalam, bilingual email, chat rooms, diverse sections on Kerala ranging from travel to culture, photo galleries and video clips, as well as shopping and subscription services.

The group was the first to have a short code in Kerala in order to reach out to the younger audiences that is more mobile-savvy. Close to 40 per cent of the page-views come from Keralites in the US, while 28 per cent are India based. The Middle East, with a strong migrant workforce from Kerala, accounts for 18 per cent of page-views.

To provide a direct link with these audiences across the globe, clips from the Malayala Manorama TV (MMTV) television channel are provided on

Monday, April 16, 2007

KBC losing viewership, Star tries innovation

Confronted with declining viewership of its much-touted quiz show Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), Star Plus has found a new way to bring in viewers.

It has launched a quiz called Khelo India Saath Saath through which viewers at home can play from home with the contestant in the hot seat and win cash prizes.

One winner is choosen for every question and is awarded Rs.1 lakh for the correct answer. Also, there is no limit on the number of entries sent by an individual per question. The contest, Star TV says is drawing viewers.

Confirmed Viren Popli, senior vice president of Star Mobile Entertainment, “We have received around 7 million calls during the first week of the contest”

He further added that the number of calls had doubled during the week when the contest was running as compared to the previous week when the number of calls received were around 3 million.

Shah Rukh Khan’s KBC3 has seen a substantial dip in its television viewership ratings (TVR). It recorded a TVR of 12.33 in the Hindi speaking belts and a TVR of 11.26 across populations in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata, on day one, according to TAM Media Research. However, the TVRs have been receding.

In the period from April 2 to April 5, the TVRs were in the range of 4.45 and 5.86, according to TAM Media Research.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Ad agencies hunt for media strategists

Earlier this year, ad agency Leo Burnett returned to the Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore, after a gap of six years and hired six graduates as strategy planners. Mudra too has upped the number of planners in its Mumbai office to 12, the highest ever. Grey Worldwide, a part of the WPP Group, too says that it has been increasing the number of strategic planners in the mainline agency. And all of them attribute this to the changing media landscape in the country.

R Gowthaman, managing director, Mindshare, a WPP group media services agency, said that the biggest reason for the increased emphasis on strategic planning was the fragmentation in the media. “It is increasingly important for an agency to come up with a media neutral (creative) strategy - something that can be implemented across different media. This is where the role of the strategic planner becomes important,”
he said.

Ad honchos agree. “Agencies today need to provide solutions beyond just traditional advertising, across various media,” said Madhukar Kamath, CEO and managing director, Mudra. “Hence it becomes necessary to have people who can work across media and across clients at a broader level,” he said.

Nirvik Singh, South Asia chairman and South-East Asia president, Grey Global Group, pointed out that the consumer’s exposure to brands was getting increasingly fragmented, which meant that he would be receptive to different messages in different surroundings. “The need of the hour is people who can work across brands and provide research which can be used at the agency level and not just for a particular brand or client,” he said.
Source : Business Standard

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Zee, Star in war of words over musical show

Entertainment channel Zee Telefilms has threatened its rival Star Plus with legal action if its new musical talent-hunt show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa turns out to be similar to its own 12-year old show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa.

In fact, the show on Star Plus is produced by veteran television producer Gajendrra Siingh, who was till now producing the popular musical show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa for Zee TV.

Apart from the same producer, Star has also roped the same anchor (singer Shaan), and judges including music director Jatin, Lalit, Aadesh Srivastava, and singers Abhijeet and Alka Yagnik, who were on the show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa on Zee TV six months ago.

But senior Star executives denied any similarity to the Zee show. “The show is produced by Saibaba Telefilms, the same production house which made the show for Zee. Now they are making a musical talent-hunt show for us and we can assure you that the format and presentation of our show will be unique which viewers will know once it’s on-air,” said Harsh Krishna Rohtagi, general manager, content & communications for Star TV India.

Zee executives called the Star’s move to launch a musical talent-hunt show a ‘pity’. “It is a pity that Star has to resort to aping content from Zee TV. I do understand the frustration of Star post major programming failures and loosing out leadership to Zee on almost all the time bands but viewers worldwide identify Sa Re Ga Ma Pa with Zee and I wish star all the best in their latest copying attempt,” Ashish Kaul, senior vice president of Zee group.

However, on two previous occasions also, Zee TV had served legal notice to Star for coming up with TV shows similar in content and format to Zee shows. On both occasions Star obliged by either withdrawing the show or by changing its structure.

“Once Star Vijaya, the tamil channel of Star India was launching Saregamapa and we had served then legal notice expressing our reservations. They withdrew the show. Again, when Star One was launching a soap called Beetiyaan...similar to a Zee soap, we objected and they had to change the name,” Kaul said.

The 12-year show Sa Re Ga Ma Pa has consistently delivered high ratings for Zee and has been the channel driver at 8pm-9pm time band and later at the 10 pm time band. In fact, Zee has launched several versions of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa—for kids, in regional launguages and the latest Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Challenge which was launched in 2005.

Source : Business Standard

Friday, April 13, 2007

Ad gurus upstaged by new names in Asian rankings

It would be natural to expect creative ad honchos like Prasoon Joshi, Piyush Pandey or R Balakrishnan (Balki) to enter any elite list of top creative people in Asia.

But, according to the latest rankings compiled by the Asian creative advertising magazine, Campaign Brief Asia, at least seven lesser-known creative Indian professionals have upstaged the ad gurus in the “Hottest 1,050 Creatives in Asia” list.

Joshi at 160, for instance, is behind Hital Pandya and Karan Amin of JWT Mumbai, who are the only creative Indian professionals in the top 50. Other ad veterans like K V Sridhar of Leo Burnett and Balki are further behind at 256 and 501, respectively.

All the same, the veterans haven’t done too badly. While Joshi climbed 165 places, Sridhar or Balki were not a part of the 2005 rankings.

Predictably, senior Indian ad personalities played down the importance of creative rankings. Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and national creative director, India & South Asia, Ogilvy said, “The senior ad men are probably doing more meaningful things than just award-winning work.”

Others like Balki said the rankings were a direct result of participation in creative award functions, which Lowe has been consciously staying away from. “The rankings are like a small benefit match and not the real game,” said Balki, hinting that the real win for advertising was better performance of brands in the market. Joshi was not available for comment.

The rankings are based on the performance of ad agencies and ad men at major international creative advertising awards like Cannes, The One Show, D&AD and Clio.

The rankings also reaffirmed factors like the creative renaissance of certain agencies like JWT, which in the not-so-distant past was losing its creative edge. JWT’s Mumbai office displaced Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai, as the Indian agency of the year. JWT moved up from its number 10 ranking in 2005 to capture the top slot. Leo Burnett dropped a rank from two to three in 2006, while McCann Erickson held on to its fourth spot.

Even among Asian ranks, JWT Mumbai figured among the most notable moves, improving its ranks from 68 to 16. Ogilvy & Mather, Mumbai, was at 22, though Pandey claims that it’s the all India operations that matter.

Other Indian agencies that made it to the Top 50 were Leo Burnett, Mumbai, at 24, McCann Erickson, Mumbai, at 25, O&M, New Delhi, at 30, Rediffusion DYR, Mumbai, at 39 and Ambience Publicis, Mumbai, at 48.


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sify appoints Big Bang Media as exclusive Internet ad sales concessionaire

Sify Limited has appointed Mumbai-based Big Bang Media as its exclusive Internet ad sales concessionaire. Big Bang Media will be entrusted with the management of the complete advertising sales of’s Internet properties including Wallet Watch, Bawarchi, Khel, and It will also look after Sify’s innovative retail advertising product AdPlus that enables desktop advertising across Sify iWays (cyber cafĂ© chain) spread across 160 cities.

Commenting on the development, V Sivaramakrishnan, President-Portals, Sify Ltd, said, “Sify presents a unique package to enhance customer reach not only through its popular consumer portals, but also its reach to the consumer through its 3,500 iWay networks across 160 cities and the unique AdPlus advertising model. Big Bang Media’s rich domain experience, combined with Sify’s reach, will help brand ads work in an online and offline delivery model.”

Big Bang Media offers 360-degree solutions in the media and entertainment space. It already handles the complete Hindi content aggregation and creation function for all channels.

Big Bang Media has roped in Alok Rakshit as Partner to head the Ad Sales Process. Rakshit has earlier worked as National Sales Head of ETC Music and Zee Music. He has also worked with TV Today Network and Bennett, Coleman & Co. Ltd (Times FM, Times Music and Times Response).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Raj Television board okays launching 11 channels

Broadcaster Raj Television Network Ltd’s board approved launching 11 new channels, including a national Hindi channel. Meanwhile Raj Television Network Ltd reported an increased operating profit of Rs 18.32 crore for the year ended March 31, 2007 against Rs 8.4 crore posted in the previous year. According to a company press release, its revenues for the year stand at Rs 38.64 crore against Rs 31.5 crore.

However, profit after tax has come down to Rs 10.7 crore from Rs 11.9 crore in 2006. The company's earnings per share (diluted) for the year under consideration works out to Rs 9.74. It has earmarked Rs 8.92 lakh for interim dividend.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tony D'Silva joining Sun Direct as CEO

Tony D'Silva, Star's head of distribution is set to join Kalanithi Maran's direct-to-home (DTH) venture as CEO.

D'Silva put in his papers today and will be serving a notice period. Sun officials also confirmed that he would be joining Sun Direct as CEO.

Maran is planning to launch his DTH service in June. Malaysia-based Astro has taken a 20 per cent stake in Sun Direct and is investing $166 million (around Rs 7.47 billion) in the project. The joint-venture's peak funding is estimated to be $670 million, spread over the first five years of operation.

D'Silva joins the long list of exits from Star India that include Star Group India CEO Peter Mukerjea and Star Entertainment India CEO Sameer Nair. While Mukerjea will be heading a media venture backed by a clutch of investors, Nair has joined NDTV Group to head their entertainment business.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Sponsors may take BCCI to court

Indian cricket’s latest controversy revolving around the decision of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) to clamp down on player endorsements threatens to upset the advertising and marketing plans of several leading companies, even as the matter appears to be heading towards the courts.

The Indian team is scheduled to make a presentation to the BCCI to discuss and, if possible, resolve the endorsement issue over the next three-four days. Meanwhile, the agents and sponsors of the players will take up the issue formally with the board on Monday and perhaps take recourse to legal action if the issue is not resolved.

At stake is close to Rs 100 crore worth of annual endorsements, with 50-70 brands riding on Indian cricket in some form or other. Advertisers such as Pepsi, Reebok, Hutch, Adidas, Britannia, TCL, Microsoft, Sansui, Hero Honda, MRF and Bharti — all of which have hinged their ad strategies around cricket — may have to rework large parts of their advertising strategies if the BCCI directives are enforced. Said an irked TCL Holdings CEO CM Singh, which uses Sourav Ganguly for endorsements, “As corporates, we should have the flexibility to decide which and how many cricketers we want for endorsements. This amounts to interfering in the personal lives of cricketers. It’s unacceptable.”

Advertisers such as Pepsi and Reebok would be worst hit, considering that they use at least six-seven cricketers each for endorsements. A Pepsi official said, “We will have to alter our strategy, depending on what is best suited for the cricketers and the company.”

Meanwhile, sponsors, advertisers and sports management agencies have decided to take up the issue formally with the board on Monday. Percept Holdings, which represents Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh and Sreesanth, has decided to write a letter to the BCCI on Monday, presenting a case for its sponsors and players. Questioned an agitated Percept joint MD Shailendra Singh, “How can the BCCI legally restrain professionals from making money? It’s an MTRP issue. The board has ignored the people who get money into the game. Our sponsors want to know the way forward.”

Globosport, which manages Zaheer Khan and Dinesh Karthik, too has decided to seek legal opinion. Without mincing words, Globosport V-P Anirban Das Blah pointed out, “Why should there be a commercial constraint on the players and not the BCCI? It is hypocritical to bully players and enforce caps on them while there is no cap on the BCCI’s seemingly endless pursuit of profits — whether through unlimited sponsors or meaningless tournaments like the recent one in Abu Dhabi. The board has made the announcements without consulting the agencies, advertisers, sponsors or the cricketers themselves.”

A BCCI official, meanwhile, told ET on Sunday that the restrictions will not be enforced on existing contracts. “We will not disturb the current contracts of players; this will be enforced for all new contracts. The board will review every contract a player signs,” the BCCI official said. However, this raises a pertinent question: while some players have multi-year contracts, others are just beginning their careers. So, while a Dinesh Karthik would have to limit his endorsements to three, a Sachin Tendulkar, on the other hand, could well continue to receive Rs 35 crore annually as minimum guarantee committed to him.

Calling BCCI’s move knee-jerk, Microsoft country manager (entertainment & devices division) Mohit Anand said, “The team lost because they didn’t play well, not because of endorsements. The BCCI needs to professionalise itself. The last chapter has not yet been written on the story.”

Microsoft recently launched its Xbox game, endorsed by Yuvraj. Sport management professionals also pointed out that all over the world, successful athletes endorse brands with no comparisons drawn between their individual performances and the number of brands they endorse. “If the BCCI feels a player is not performing, he should just be dropped, instead of making generalised rulings that impact the players’ primary source of earning,” said an official who didn’t want to be quoted.

Source : Economic Times

Sunday, April 8, 2007

More executives to quit Star TV

Star TV is facing a new challenge, with three of its top executives putting in their papers to join former Star India chief executive officer Sameer Nair in his new venture with broadcasting company NDTV and filmmaker Karan Johar’s Dharma Productions.

Nair resigned in January this year, around the same time as Peter Mukherjea, who was the CEO of the Star group.

Since then, Star India’s Shailja Kejriwal, senior creative director, and Gaurav Gandhi, vice-president, commercial and business planning, have also resigned – both of them have put in their papers in February. Another executive who may soon join Nair’s growing clan could be Manoj Vidwans, senior vice-president, Star India.

Nair is credited with masterminding Star TV’s revival in India with ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ and the family soaps of Balaji Telefilms.

Source : Business Standard

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Sun TV to pump in Rs 1.2 billion for 3 channels

Apart from launching a direct-to-home (DTH) service this year, Kalanithi Maran has also plans to launch three channels with an investment outlay of Rs 1.2 billion.

The first to come up will be a kids channel, a genre Maran's Sun network has so far no presence in. Though launched in Tamil first, it would be later extended into the other southern languages. The plan is to launch the kid channel in a month's time. Sun TV Ltd plans to invest Rs 400 million in the channel.

Sun TV Ltd will also launch a sports and a documentary channel this fiscal. The strategy is being worked out for the sports channel. The focus will be local sports with some strategic alliances. The investment planned is Rs 400 million on each channel.

Sun TV Ltd, meanwhile, is considering various instruments including private placement to bring down the promoter holding in the company to a maximum permissible limit of 90 per cent within six months. After the merger of Gemini TV and Udaya TV, the promoters' holding in STL has increased to 93 per cent with Maran having a slice as large as 89 per cent.

Sun TV Ltd 's authorised share capital is being increased from Rs 1 billion to Rs 2.25 billion to accommodate the fresh issue of shares following the merger. Besides complying with the listing guidelines, this would provide for capitalisation of reserves in future if any.

STL is going to see significant growth in subscription revenues this fiscal with Sun TV raking in Rs 600 million from cable distribution alone. The flagship Tamil general entertainment channel went pay in December.

For Maran, the second half of the year will be spent in launching DTH digital satellite television services with Malaysia's Astro All Asia Networks as a 20 per cent partner. His privately held company Sun Direct is receiving an investment of up to $166 million (around Rs 7.47 billion) from South Asia Entertainment Holdings Limited (SAEHL), a wholly owned unit of Astro. The joint-venture's peak funding is estimated to be $670 million, spread over the first five years of operation.

Source :

Friday, April 6, 2007

Cochin Ad Club invites entries for creative award

The Advertising Club of Cochin has invited ad agencies from all over South India to compete for creative awards function organised by the club.

The awards to be known as Pepper 2007 will be for different categories such as multimedia campaigns, press campaigns, TV, radio advertising, retail advertising, outdoor campaigns, POP, photography and print material.

The entries must have been produced for and accepted by an advertiser of South India between January 1 and December 31, 2006.

The winners will be presented with gold, silver and bronze awards and certificates. The agency winning the maximum number of points will be honoured with the `Agency of the Year' award. The entries will be evaluated by a team of top-notch professionals in the country.

The Cochin Advertising Club is organising the creative award function for the past 12 years and this year it has decided to open the event for the entire South India to bring more challenging ideas and concepts to the creative fraternity in Kochi, Mr K. Venugopal, President of the Club, said.

Cochin Ad Club is a professional forum with 400 members belonging to all national and regional agencies, publications, channels and industry associates. The club also runs an institute for one-year diploma course in advertising, media planning, creativity and copy writing.

Source : Business Line

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Symphony Music Club inaugurated

Symphony TV, the leading Television Production Company in Kerala launched a brand new concept Symphony Music Club with the concept to spread Friendship Through Music. The Symphony Music Club was inaugurated by Principal Secretary to Prime Minister of India Shri T. K. A. Nair on Sunday 31st March 2007 at Tagore Theatre, Trivandrum in the presence of club patrons and well wishers.

Symphony Music Club is conceived as a self motivated group of genuine music lovers who share a common bondage of harmony and camaraderie through music and melody. The only criterion for symphony membership is genuine love for good music particularly melody.

Symphony Music Club will meet at regular intervals. And conduct State wide Music competition and top it up with a Grand Music Finale, every year.

Symphony Music Club will have chapters in Kerala (Trivandrum, Kochi and Calicut), Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi. Symphony Music Club has already established chapters in Doha, Bahrain, UAE and will have chapters in other GCC countries, UK, Europe and USA

Symphony Music Club, Bahrain
Chief Patron : Shri Balakrishna Shetty, Indian Ambassador to Bahrain
President : Shri Mahmood Al Mahmood, Former Minister of Information, Kingdom of Bahrain.
Patron : Shri Soman Baby, News Editor, Gulf Daily News
Chief Coordinator : Shri Sunny Kulathakkal

Symphony Music Club, Doha
Chief Patron : Dr George Joseph, Indian Ambassador to Qatar
Patron : Shri C.K. Menon, chairman & MD Behzad Group of Companies (Pravasi Bharatiya Samman – National Award winner).
Coordinator : Shri Amanulla.

Symphony Music Club, UAE
Chief Patron : Shri C. M. Bhandari, Indian Ambassidor to UAE
Patrons : Shri Venu Rajamony, Consul General of India
Shri M. A. Yousaf Ali, Managing Director Emke Group
Dr. B.R Shetty Managing Director of New Medical Centre and UAE Exchange
Shri Joy Alukka, Chairman, Joy Alukkas Group
Vice President : Mr Sudhir Kumar Shetty, COO, UAE Exchange
Secretary : Shri Padma Kumar
Coordinator : Shri B. Gopa Kumar.

Symphony Television is headed by media expert Mr V. Krishna Kumar former COO of Kairali TV and CGM of Asianet. Symphony TV is an integrated production house and Television content creator with an in-house creative, production and marketing set-up. Symphony TV also conducts exclusive stage shows and offers consultancy and BPO services. Symphony TV is the first Television Production Company in India having equity participation from the Central and State Government promoted financial institution, Kerala Venture Capital Fund which is a joint venture company promoted by KSIDC, KFC and SIDBI.

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

NDTV launches cerebral Reality Show

NDTV has tied up with Airtel to present a reality contest named ‘Airtel Scholar Hunt Destination UK’. The show will be on air from July 14 this year.

'Airtel Scholar Hunt Destination UK' specifically targets students who will complete their Senior Secondary (Class XII) education this April. The reality show to be hosted by Arun Thapar, proposes to select the best from the Indian student community in the country and offer them five scholarships to British universities in subjects as diverse as Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Management, Computing Science, Biomedical Science and Engineering.

The winners will bag scholarships to renowned universities like Cardiff University, Leeds University, Middlesex University, Sheffield University and Warwick University for either a Bachelor’s or a Master’s degree. In addition to sponsoring the scholarships and stipend for living expenses, the participating British universities will assist in developing the specifics of the quiz and task rounds, so that the contest questions reflect their exacting admission requirements.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

ADAG keen on Miditech buy

The Reliance Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) is now eyeing Miditech, the production house synonymous with reality programming in India, for a 51% buy-out. The company’s interest in Miditech stems from its plan to foray into the broadcasting space with a reality and lifestyle channel.

Miditech is known for its expertise in the reality genre and has produced some successful reality shows for Indian television such as Indian Idol, Fame Gurukul and MTV Roadies. Reliance is hoping to piggyback on the production house’s experience and rule the reality genre in India. This would mean that Miditech would exclusively produce shows for Reliance, discontinuing all the other commitments made to other channels in the Indian terrain.

In fact, the company was also considering entering the capital market. The Reliance spokesperson denied it saying there was no such move. Reliance’s strategy is to first secure its supply chain and then venture into a particular project, as the case was with the film and entertainment sector with the acquisition of Adlabs.

In the recent past, a host of production houses have resorted to merging with the big players to strengthen their own position as has been the case with Manmohan Shetty’s Adlabs, Siddharth Basu’s Synergy Communications, Bobby Bedi’s Kaleidoscope and Balaji Telefilms partnership with Star India.

For Miditech, the alliance with Reliance will unleash a host of new avenues considering the younger Ambani’s big plans in the entertainment arena. Now a mid-sized player, Miditech is Asia’s leading independent production company that creates a wide range of programming.

The company has received accolades for many award winning documentaries and international format game shows. The company has earned a reputation for producing programmes to meet the standards of international broadcasters with over 400 hours of programming in 2005-2006 for clients such as MTV, National Geographic Channels International (NGCI), BBC, the Star Network, SET, Doordarshan, The Disney Channel, and Turner. It also works closely with international distributors like Granada International, Beyond and Tele Images.

Source : Economic Times

Monday, April 2, 2007

3 INX channels named; core executive team of 9

Nine seems to have a great deal of significance in Indrani and Peter Mukerjea's upcoming television network. Nine people make up the core team that will be at the helm of the broadcast venture and the number is integral to the name of all the channels (with the exception of news) INX plans to roll out.

The first three channels in the broadcast bouquet - Hindi general entertainment, music and English news - have been titled 9X, 9X Music and News X respectively and are targeting a year-end launch.

The full bouquet of channels will also include various entertainment channels in regional languages and city-specific channels, all of which are to be rolled out over the next two years.

The top rung in the leadership matrix includes Ms Mukerjea herself, former editor of Hindustan Times Vir Sanghvi as CEO of INX News and editorial head of the news channel, former Star India CFO Shankar Narayan as group director finance, former Star India EVP distribution Arun Mohan as group director distribution, former Star News operations director and Tata Sky project consultant Vynsley Fernandes as group director network operations and ad filmmaker Dilip Ghosh as director content.

A conspicuous absentee from the list is Peter Mukerjea, which is clearly due to the legal limitations imposed by the non-compete clause he has with his former employer Star that runs till 30 June. Assuming that he would ultimately handle the CEO's portfolio.

One huge advantage that INX has going for it of course is that with $ 300 million in funding commitments from the likes of Temasek Holdings (via Dunearn Investments), New Silk Route, New Vernon, Kotak and SREI Group, the network will not lack for resources to translate vision into reality.

Source :

Sunday, April 1, 2007

TV ad rates to be hiked

Television channels are planning to charge more from advertisers. The rate hikes are likely to be effected in the middle of April, when there will be a large number of fresh contracts under negotiation. Many existing contracts end with the financial year.

The channels point out that while the number of cable and satellite homes has nearly doubled in the last four years, the rates have not gone up proportionately. There has been some shake-up in viewership with the introduction of the conditional access system (CAS) in some cities and advertisers say many viewers have logged out of pay channels. However, this is seen as a temporary aberration and analysts believe that general entertainment channels are at present under-priced.

Now is an opportune time, as India is out of the cricket World Cup and eyeballs are thirsting again for general entertainment. Advertisers, shaken up by the cricket debacle, will find it difficult to withstand a hard bargain from channels.

Source : Business Standard