New Delhi: The first edition of the event, focused on the theme ‘Future of News’ and to realise the opportunities and challenges associated with the present media landscape, was attended by the Founder of ITV Network and Rajya Sabha MP Kartikeya Sharma, who is also the vice president of National Broadcasting Federation (NBF).
He was a speaker on the very first panel. He said, “I don’t think that there is any doubt about the core function of the media business, which is the 4th estate and invites the qualities of a democratic setup, but that doesn’t take us away from the fact that we are running a business at the end of the day. You running a business profitably or not is relative and, in my opinion, independent of what you want. Whether you want growth or you want profitability, it is all about how you approach the business.”
He added, but unlike most businesses in other genres and other fields, we have a systematic problem in the news industry at multiple levels. He said, “If it were to change, obviously the income streams and revenue streams would also change. We need to look at the systematic setup as to why we are in the industry and why we are in the position we are in.”
At multiple levels, he said, the first thing is not realizing the fact that we and this industry are changing a lot and the bulk of the things that we spoke about need consolidation. Moreover, there are many things that are not coming from within, they are coming from new areas, from new arenas, and they are becoming challengers. “So the traditional broadcast business is facing a challenge from independent content creators. And going forward, I think we really need to concentrate on how we actually monetize each and every aspect of it and create new revenue streams. We can’t be traditional based on just pure play advertising and those things that would make us profitable per se,” he added.
There is also a whole orientation of how we approach solutions and problems. It’s not an easy business, and that goes without saying. It is a highly capital-intensive and human resource-intensive business. “I think the most important thing to understand is that the industry is evolving and, while we have not reached a finite point, it is like any other capital economy or a capital market. Unless and until you don’t remove the inefficiencies from the system, the businesses will not become very profitable.”
“The inefficiency I am talking about is reach, it is distribution, I am talking about other factors which tend to take away a large chunk of the money from business. Whereas the content creators pass on the content for free. We should also be able to dissipate our content, and it should be able to reach consumers free of charge. These are systematic problems that lie in the system. They were actually, in letter and spirit, brought in a way that things are supposed to be. I don’t think that should be unprofitable.”