Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Indian Media & Communication: On a Road to Convergence


Published on

Not long ago in India, mobile phones were nowhere in the horizon, land line phones were meant for a privileged few, there was just one television channel - a government run service - with limited hours of programming, and a single state radio network reigning supreme in the skies. As the decade of nineties unfolded, the country entered into a historic phase of media and communication revolution. In the span of just two decades, we have more than six hundred television channels beaming on the country; mobile phones have become an essential accessory for the working class; cable television and DTH are undergoing astounding growth; and internet along with broadband is fast catching up the astronomical expansion of other media platforms.

Published in: Technology, Business
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

Indian Media & Communication: On a Road to Convergence

  1. 1. IMARCDoing business just got easier…….much easier….Indian Media & Communication: On a Road toConvergenceThe Journey so far and the path ahead
  2. 2. SummaryNot long ago in India, mobile phones were nowhere in the horizon, land linephones were meant for a privileged few, there was just one television channel -a government run service - with limited hours of programming, and a single stateradio network reigning supreme in the skies. As the decade of ninetiesunfolded, the country entered into a historic phase of media and communicationrevolution. In the span of just two decades, we have more than six hundredtelevision channels beaming on the country; mobile phones have become anessential accessory for the working class; cable television and DTH areundergoing astounding growth; and internet along with broadband is fastcatching up the astronomical expansion of other media platforms.Media and Communication is a sunrise industry which is on a high growthtrajectory in India. The article is attempting to have a look at the origin andgrowth of various forms of media and communication in the country and is havinga peep into the crystal ball for getting an idea of shape of things to come.IMARC Page 2
  3. 3. How Did it StartConvergence has been a buzz-word since a decade orso and sounds like being a new phenomenon in thefield of media and communication. However, perceivingit in a rather relaxed and generic manner, it can beargued that this term has been quite familiar to themedia world in some form or the other. Let us take theexample of drama which has been regarded by ancientIndian sages as fifth Veda as it assimilated all the existing forms of art andliterature into it viz prose, poetry, music, dance, acting, painting, architecture etc.Invention of this art form signifies convergence though not in the same sense asit is understood now. It is nobody’s case that emergence of drama as an art formmeant annihilation of its constituents. In fact, drama flourished along with allthose art forms which got assimilated into it.Drama is just one example. In the fag end of the nineteenth century, when themedium of moving pictures was invented, it had no sound. Later on, when era ofsilent movies gave way to talkies, sound got integrated with moving imageswhich was nothing but convergence of sound and visuals. The medium of movingimages proved to be a platform for convergence from another angle as well. Itnot only adapted drama to its requirements but also news papers in forms ofnewsreels and documentaries. While doing so, it did not kill or in any way subvertor threaten the existence of other media forms.Analog Era Besides the advent of moving images, end of nineteenth century marked an even bigger revolution in the field of media and communication. Marconi invented wireless communication by using analog electromagnetic waves as carrier of messages. These analog carrier waves brought many revolutions. Firstly, the ‘one to one’ wireless communication mode invented by Marconievolved itself into the ‘one to many’ communicationmedium which was given the name of broadcasting.Initially, it was sound broadcasting. Once again, thisnew medium became a great tool for bringing variousmedia forms on one single platform. As we see, radioas a medium was able to integrate into itself differentmedia formats viz speech, music, drama, news etc.Was it not a great convergence phenomenon of itstime! Now let us look at television. With its invention inIMARC Page 3
  4. 4. the decade of thirties, sound broadcasting got integrated with visuals - again anevent of convergence on the platform of analog electromagnetic waves.Interestingly, while in case of movies, visuals came first and later they gotintegrated with sound; for television, it was the other way round. If we delvedeeper, we see emergence of television as yet another platform for convergenceof various media forms like news, drama, dance, music, documentaries, featurefilms etc. Television signifies convergence of various forms of cultural and artisticexpressions as well as social and political communication.There is yet another dimension to the argument that convergence in its genericsense has been an ongoing phenomenon. Present day discussions onconvergence are veered around digital technology. However, if we look at itsprecursor, the analog technology closely, it is also capable of serving as aplatform for convergence for telephone, radio and television at least in theoreticalsense. There can be counterargument that it is not really so as we would beneeding three different instruments for functions associated with telephone, radioand television respectively but this counterargument is only partly true. Theirintegration into single equipment on an analog platform has never been atechnological impossibility though there could be feasibility issues because ofvariations in frequency assignments for television, radio and wireless telephony.Digital Revolution Though, convergence in a broader sense has been known to the mankind since long, what has come on the scene during the last two decades is convergence in the specific context of digital revolution which has made delivery of voice, text and video possible through one single receiving mode much easier, practical, efficient and ubiquitous. The technology underlying digital revolution evolved during the later half of the last centuryand has led to the conversion of earlier analog media formats into the new digitalmodes.The new technology has many special features. Firstly, in the analog technologythere is loss of information and resultant deterioration in quality while makingcopies of video or audio tapes. In fact, quality gets from bad to worse insuccessive generations of copying. As against this, in the digital environment,one can make multiple generation copies with quality as good as the originalversion. Secondly, amplification of digital signal as well as its passage to its finaldestination takes place without any loss of information. Thirdly and even moresignificantly, the technology enables the users to move the digital informationfrom one media format to the other with total ease. Access to and distribution ofinformation from anywhere to anywhere becomes possible without tears.IMARC Page 4
  5. 5. As a result of this revolution, consumption anddistribution of recorded music underwent a paradigmshift during the decade of eighties as vinyl records andcassette tapes were gradually supplanted by opticalcompact discs. During the same decade, personalcomputers started gaining popularity among thegeneral public at least in the developed countries andmillions of people bought computers for home use. Inthe decade of nineties, digital technology virtually revolutionized the developedworld in particular after the World Wide Web (WWW) or the internet was madeavailable to the common people in 1992. It soon became a powerful vehicle forglobalization and outsourcing. By the end of the last century, almost everycountry had internet connection and all big business entities had their websites.Most visible aspect of this revolution are cell phones which are increasinglybecoming a common sight even in the developing world.The impact of digital technology on the modern era has been far and wide.Gramophone records have turned into CDs and mp3 discs. Video tapes havemetamorphosed into DVDs and then further into Blu-ray. Conventional postalmails have given way to e-mails. Photo reels have almost vanished in the digitalcameras. Analog broadcasting is getting replaced by digital broadcasting-bothfor radio and television. The all-pervading character of the technology can befathomed from the fact that it is permeating into almost every area of humanactivity - from typewriting to e-commerce. Conventional books, magazines andnewspapers are now available in their e-avatars and almost all news papersworth their salt are now having their web versions which can be accessed fromanywhere. If you are sitting in some small Indian village, you need not send yoursubscription and wait anxiously for the postman for enjoying your favoriteinternational newspaper or magazine like Washington Post or Economist andhoping that they do not get poached by some other ardent and voracious reader!They are now all available on your computer screen after just few clicks ofmouse. These developments have social and political fall outs. Digital revolutionhas not only led to greater interconnectedness and easier communicationresulting in blurring of international boundaries but also to exposure to suchinformation that was easily getting suppressed in the past by totalitarian regimes. Network convergence is a significant feature of digital revolution. Different characteristics of different types of information - audio, video and text - led to development of separate networks for each of them. There has been one network for telephone, another for cable television and yet another for internet. They were designed differently and were very often incompatible due to various feasibility considerations. This problem has been overcome with theadvent of digital technology which reduces information into discrete, identifiableand thus more easily transferable pieces of information. Network convergenceIMARC Page 5
  6. 6. utilizes this attribute of digital communication to efficiently and effectivelydistribute different types of information through the same communicationnetwork. With the emergence of network convergence, we can have voice, videoand text through the same network. As a result, we can receive both televisionprogrammes and internet service through our telephone line. On the other hand,it is also possible for our friendly cable operator in the neighborhood to providealong with television channels, internet and telephone services as well. Cellphones are the most telling example of such convergence as they are growinginto a powerful vehicle of transmission of not only voice but also of text andvideo.Indian ScenarioWhile having a glimpse at the Indian scenario, we comeacross a very interesting aspect. In some areas ofbroadcasting and communication, India has almost keptpace with the developed world since the very beginning.First telegraph line in USA was commissioned in May,1844 between Washington DC and Baltimore. Indiacaught up within the next seven years and the firsttelegraph line between Kolkata and Diamond Harbour,became operational in 1851. Again, Telephone wasinvented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876 and commercial telephone servicebegan in US in 1877. As against this, in India, first license for establishingtelephone services was granted to an English company in 1881 which was ableto open telephone exchanges in Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai the very nextyear. Now let us consider radio broadcasting. Like countries in the developedworld where regular and organized broadcasting was launched in the decade oftwenties, India entered into this arena in 1927 with the Indian BroadcastingCompany coming into operation.We cannot say the same in case of television broadcasting where India had beena laggard. While hectic experiments were going on in the developed world in thedecade of thirties and a 405 line television service was launched by BBC inNovember, 1936, first television broadcast was made in India only in September,1959. In case of change over from B&W to colour, the time lag was even morepalpable. While the first coast to coast colour broadcast was made in US on theNew Year Day of 1954, India was able to do it only in 1982. In the area of mobile telephony, India lagged much behind the developed worldfor many years. The first commercially automated cellular network was launchedin Japan in 1979. It was first generation or 1G mobile service meant for voicetransmissions only. Second generation or 2G service, a digital system capableof providing voice, data and fax transfers, appeared in Finland in 1991. In case ofthird generation or 3G services, which allows much better flow of voice, data andIMARC Page 6
  7. 7. video, it was once again Japan where it was launched in the year 2001. Now,the developed world is looking forward to the launch of 4G mobile services whichwill provide wireless broadband transfers at amazing speed, at least by presentstandards. As against this, mobile phone service was launched in India at amuch later stage in 1994 and that too only in Delhi and Kolkata to begin with.Licenses for 2G service were auctioned by the government as late as in 2008. Bycomparison, movement in the 3G era is expected to be relatively faster as theauction of licenses have already taken place this year. However, in the field ofinternet, India is entitled to some credit. While in US, the internet becameavailable for commercial use in 1992, VSNL in India launched this service in1994-just within two years. It is paradoxical that notwithstanding all hiccups and delays, both television and mobile telephony have undergone phenomenal expansion in India. In case of television, by the end of decade of eighties, it was just Doordarshan - a government run channel - which was providing this service during certain specified hours only. In 1990, the country got the first taste of a non- governmenttelevision when CNN started beaming on India during Gulf War. Beneficiaries ofthis service were a handful of well-to-do households in the elite metropolitanareas. From this numerically insignificant but high profile beginning, non-government sector has now come of age. There are more than four hundredchannels now available to Indian viewers. Reach of television in India throughterrestrial coverage is ninety percent in terms of population. Theoretically, ittranslates into a huge number in a country with 1.2 billion population but totalnumber of TV homes in India is only 134 million as in November, 2009 as per astudy conducted by TAM Media Research. In November, 2008, this number was123 million which meant that TV homes registered a growth of nine percent inone year. Out of 134 million TV homes, number of homes having cable andsatellite connection is 103 million. In November, 2008, there were only 90 millionsuch homes which meant that growth in C&S segment has been much faster viz.fifteen percent. Out of these 103 million C&S homes, eighty five percent are inurban areas which means that penetration of cable & satellite in rural areas israther limited.When we look at the growth of Direct to Home(DTH) television in India, the story is just thereverse. Growth is much more in rural areas thanurban centers. As per current estimates, there are20 million DTH homes and out of these, 14 millionare in rural India. These 20 million homes aredivided among six players viz. Dish TV, Tata Sky,Sun Direct, Big TV, Airtel Digital TV and VideoconD2H. It is interesting to note that Doordarshan, which is a major player in thisIMARC Page 7
  8. 8. segment with its DD-Direct Plus DTH Service, is not being accounted for as thisservice is free to air and unlike DTH Pay TV, there are no authentic record of itssubscribers. However, as per estimates, there are 10 million DTH homescovered by Doordarshan. DTH market is going with a fast pace in India and it isestimated that it will grow at CAGR of twenty-eight percent between the period2010 and 2012. According to market analysts, India is poised to become largestDTH Pay TV market in the world by 2012. Growth of mobile telephony in India has been rather astronomical. The service was started in India in 1994 and by December, 2001, there were 7.56 million connections. There was ten fold increase within just four years as the number of connections rose to 75.94 million by December, 2005. By another four years the network expanded by seven times and India was having 525.94 million mobile subscribers by December, 2009. As per estimates, number of subscribers further rose to 585.32 million by March, 2010. In terms of number of connections, India is only behind China which has 777 million subscribers. It is, however,estimated that India will soon overtake China and by 2012 as there would be 893million cell-phone users in the country. One major reason for such mind blowinggrowth is that the mobile tariffs in India have kept on falling and are now lowest inthe world. It is interesting to note that in comparison to gigantic figures of mobileconnections, there are only 37 million fixed-line subscribers.As opposed to mobile phones, reach of internet in India is quite limited. There areonly 81 million internet users and in other words, only seven percent of thepopulation is having access to this service which is one of the lowest in the world.Accessibility of broadband is even more limited with only eight million peoplebeing able to use this facility. Even this not-so-significant number is furtherqualified by the fact that in India broadband is defined as 256 kbps (kilo bytes persecond) which is ridiculously low by global standards. Thankfully, TelecomRegulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has now recommended raising of limit to twombps (mega bytes per second).The Road AheadSalient feature of the digital revolution is that it is having a symbiotic relationshipwith the forces of globalization as it is a powerful vehicle and strong catalyst forglobalization on the one hand and its major beneficiary on the other. As a result,the technology is increasingly becoming more and more globally integrated. Now,any development taking place in one part of the world (read developed world)catches the remaining parts like wild fire. In most of the countries which havecrossed a particular technological threshold, adoption of latest technology isIMARC Page 8
  9. 9. taking place without any major time lag. Latestversions of desktop computers, laptops,televisions, cameras, mobile phones or for thatmatter any other equipment or gadget are soonavailable almost everywhere. In such a situation,future trends in respect of a particular countrycannot be analyzed in isolation. We will have toaccount for global trends while considering localfactors like cultural and societal forces, economicscenario, levels of literacy and education, technological and scientificdevelopments etc.The present global scenario is fluid and dynamic and the technology is in thecontinuous process of evaluation in every direction. What was latest and state-of-art yesterday is obsolete today. In such a situation, any crystal ball gazing isfraught with dangers. However, there are certain discernible trends which onecannot help mentioning.Firstly, territorial divisions between television, telephone and computers are notonly melting but are increasingly overlapping upon each other. A television cannow be made to act like a video phone and may have some features of acomputer as well. A computer can act both as a phone and a television.Likewise, a mobile phone can perform many functions of a computer and at thesame time also act as a television. Such intrusions are likely to further intensify infuture.Secondly, such intermingling of territorial divisions is not resulting in any kind ofconfused identity. Each gadget is able to retain its main identity and core activitywhile integrating into it certain functions of other gadgets. No cannibalizing ishappening as consumers still prefer to use a particular gadget for a particularfunction. People do not discard their TV sets just because programmes can bewatched through a computer. As a rule, TV set is associated with relaxation whilecomputer’s association is with working. It is another thing that a person might liketo watch a missed episode either while relaxing during work hours or duringtraveling. Thus, computer is only offering an option to its user without trying toreplace the television set. To the contrary, entire process is working to theadvantage of both the gadgets. Additional functions being added to any gadgetonly result in value addition and model up-gradation without any dilution either inits own basic identity or threat to other gadgets. What is true for mutualrelationship between computer and television equally holds good for othergadgets. In all probability, this trend is going to continue in the short and mediumterm.IMARC Page 9
  10. 10. Thirdly, while encroachments in each other’s territories continue, computers, televisions and mobile phones are on a continuous growth path in their own rights as well. While both computers and mobile phones are incessantly and insatiably adding to their storage capability and processing speed and untiringly searching for new applications, television broadcastingis in a confidant and upbeat mood. It is moving from analog to digital environmentall the world over and, in fact, looking much beyond its conventional platformslike terrestrial, cable and DTH. TV is venturing into new modes of distributionsuch as IP TV, webcasting and mobile phones. Another dimension oftechnological advancement is that conventional standard definition transmissionis poised for replacement by high definition transmission or HDTV which enablesviewers to enjoy better picture quality on a wider screen. Also, domestic twentyone inch TV sets are now passé and larger and larger LCD screens are in-things.Such multidirectional growth and development in the TV industry only shows thatit is not perceiving any threat to its existence as the prime medium of informationand entertainment and looking forward to a bright future for many more years tocome.Fourthly, digital revolution will be bringingmore and more changes in the programmingformats of television. They will be gettingmore and more interactive. Already, viewersare encouraged to participate in programmeseither by giving answer to questions or bycasting their votes for their favouriteparticipants in talent hunt shows by usingtheir mobile phones. Some news channels have introduced the concept ofcitizen journalists according to which viewers are encouraged to shoot news-worthy visuals and send them to channels. With continuous development and up-gradation in digital technology and falling prices of gadgets, this trend will pick upfurther and there will be more and more creative ideas taking shape in the areaof interactive television programming. Long standing divide between directors,performers and technicians on the one hand and audiences on the other willvanish gradually. In fact, it may also be a giant leap in the direction of peopleempowerment and strengthening of democratic process.Fifthly, besides television, internet is developing in to a great tool of peopleempowerment and actual realization of constitutional right to freedom ofexpression. In various democratic countries, though people have this right, itmostly remains on paper due to the fact that an ordinary citizen does not havemeans to exercise it. Printing and distributing a newspaper or running a TVchannel is beyond his means. As a result, media gets monopolized by bigIMARC Page 10
  11. 11. business houses having means to do so. Internet provides a much cheaperoption to an ordinary man to express himself by running his own website. Withfalling prices of various gadgets and equipments, it will be possible for him toeven run his own radio station or TV channel without incurring much expenditure.With increase in broadband and internet penetration in the coming years, thistrend will further catch up.Sixthly, with increasing participation of common man in interactive TVprogramming and more and more use of internet by him for expressing himself,being media savvy will no longer be exclusive preserve of politicians, actors andsenior managers only. It will be essential social trait and compulsory personalityrequisite for every educated person in the coming years. Media productiontechniques will have to be essential part of curriculum from school level itself.The Indian FutureAbove trends are only illustrative and indicative and in no way exhaustive. Theyhave applicability to India with certain riders and qualifications.Firstly, while television broadcasting and mobile telephony are fairly developed inIndia in terms of penetration; broadband and internet lag far behind at this stage.They may remain so in the short and medium term in view of the fact that,despite falling prices, computers are still beyond the reach of large number ofpeople. Also, monthly, broadband connection is yet to become affordable foreveryone. Further, unlike telephone or mobile, internet connection at home hasstill not become a basic need and essential ingredient for day to day life.Moreover, unlike mobile or television, one needs some basic skill for handlingcomputer and internet which even large number of educated people do not have.However, situation will drastically improve in the long run due a strong economicgrowth, continuous increase in literacy and computer awareness, better andcheaper broadband connectivity and gadgets becoming cheaper and cheaper.Secondly, in view of the above, in the short and medium term, television andmobile phones are likely to be growth drivers in the media sector. Both will behaving symbiotic relationship with each other which will be benefiting both thesectors. Television software sector will be getting an alternative platform fordistribution of its products which will be a significant factor in driving its growth. Itmay be mentioned that mobile cannot be a true replacement of television but itwill always have an advantage of reaching to out of home captive audiences.Such audiences may have certain specific media requirements like sports, news,interactive programmes or short duration entertainment though some of themmay even like to watch films or musical shows while either traveling or duringwaiting for somebody for a longer period. At some point time, we might havetailor made TV channels specifically catering to mobile users.IMARC Page 11
  12. 12. Thirdly, Due to growing symbiotic relationship between TV and mobile there arewill be more and more horizontal integrations between mobile and televisionbusinesses. ADAG Group owning a mobile network is planning to get intotelevision business in a big way very soon. Airtel, a mobile service provider, isalready in DTH television business. This trend will continue.Fourthly, mobile telephones as a medium of advertisement are catching up veryfast. Presently, advertisements are mostly in the form of SMS messages. In viewof its vast penetration and rolling down of 3G being round the corner, mobilephones will be more and more preferred medium of advertisement. After 3Gbecoming operational, advertisements are likely to be more attractively packagedin audio-visual format and there is every likelihood of major advertisers givingdue weightage to this platform while drawing their future media plans andallocating advertising budget among different media.This sector has all the potentialities to be a major player in the Indian economyas it is not only a sunrise industry in its own right but also a powerful catalyst forthe growth of other sectors. Policy makers will have to keep it in mind all the time.IMARC Page 12
  13. 13. About IMARCFor more than 5 years, the International Market Analysis Research andConsulting Group has been a leading advisor on management strategy andmarket research worldwide. We partner with clients in all sectors and regions toidentify their highest-value opportunities, address their most critical challenges,and transform their businesses.IMARCs information products include major market, scientific, economic andtechnological developments for business leaders in pharmaceutical, industrial,and high technology organizations. Market forecasts and industry analysis forbiotechnology, advanced materials, pharmaceuticals, food and beverage, traveland tourism, nanotechnology and novel processing methods are at the top of thecompanys expertise.IMARC’s tailored approach combines unfathomable insight into the dynamics ofcompanies and markets with close cooperation at all levels of the clientorganization. This ensures that our clients achieve unmatchable competitiveadvantage, build more proficient organizations, and secure lasting results.The author of this white paper is a well known figure in the Indian and Britishelectronic media industry with 36 years of experience in the field.To avail our services in the field of media consultancy and research, pleasecontact sales@imarcgroup.comIMARC Page 13