Monday, June 29, 2015

Radiance of flowers + liquor = Love?

शोखियों में घोला जाये फूलों का शबाब
उस में फिर मिलाई जाये थोड़ीसी शराब
होगा यूँ नशा जो तैय्यार वो प्यार है

Mix the radiance of flowers.
Then add a small measure of liquor.
The state of giddy stupor
That you get from all the above
Is what we call love.

For a full and a beautiful translation of the whole song, you must visit 
by Shivani Mohan. Amazing translations of all those beautiful songs we are fond of)

These are the lyrics of a song from the Hindi film, Prem Pujari. But then we know that love is not so simple as that, isn't it? But why am I talking about love? Well, if love could have a formula, why not films? Just suppose there was a formula like H2 + O = H2O everyone would make a hit film. No one would be worried about giving a flop and losing a lot of money. This is exactly what a guest, a complete system's man, said the other day in my office. He was completely convinced that if he would be able to develop a formula which would help the producers to make a successful film every time.

Would this really work? I mean why don't we really develop a formula which will help producers and directors, with a hit every time? I'm sure no producer or director in the right frame of mind suddenly wake up one fine morning and say, "Hey! Let's make a flop today." But then, why do some films go on to become box office hits, while some turn out to be duds?

One reason could be polysemy. A simple meaning to polysemy is 'many meanings'. The meaning I derive out of a media content could be different than the meaning derived by you. However, the content that you and me see is exactly different. So a heavy rainfall in a scene might gladden one person's heart, whereas for another it might bring out feelings of horror of a flood. Not only there are different meaning derived, but it also depends on the mood a person is in.

So if I get a lot of traffic while driving to work, the vehicle moving at a snail's pace, honking and shouting all around, I would prefer to watch a Nat Geo, or a Discovery channel with pleasant visuals than the cacophony of a slapstick comedy when I get home. But if I enjoy my drive home, I might burst out laughing at the silliest of jokes.

How then, could a movie be made to please everyone in the audience? Even with a formula, can one guarantee a box office hit? Because a formula may work for one type of audience, but not other, and it may work depending the overall mood of the public.

But still, that discussion made me curious. I decided to explore if any such formula does exist. The results of my search are interesting. More tomorrow....

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 7 - Blame it on Sam Pitroda

Blame it on Sam Pitroda

We have all become isolated, independent units, hiding behind the cool, smooth glass surface of our monitors and mobile phones. We are connected to the society only when these devices are connected to a network. Otherwise, we are alone, lost in our own world, concerned with only the self, becoming narcissists. We are prone to exposing our thoughts, feelings, life events, loves, hates, and joys online, on social media sites. We measure our quality of living on how many 'likes' our Facebook status acquires, or how many 'hits' our websites get.We are exposing ourselves to the extreme, to the point of obscenity. We find ecstasy in communication. This is what Jean Baudrillard and other philosophers say. Neil Postman also says that we have become 'technophiles' and overdependent on technology to point of thinking that our day cannot start without reading whats on WhatsApp or other social media. Robin Jefferey call us the 'mobile nation'. Technology has deprived us of any sort of semblance of social capital, so necessary for a successful society.

Personally, I think we need not be so pessimistic. Please read my earlier post. But then, who is responsible for all this, especially in India? Well, let's go back a little in history.

The McBride Report, generated from the New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO), a study sponsored by UNESCO failed to change the way the world communicates. That was because the two biggest sponsoring nations, US and UK backed out citing commercial reasons. Around the same time (1980s), several changes took place in the political and economic scenario in India.

Immediately after the Emergency, imposed by the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi was lifted in 1997, the Janata Government came into power, but lasted only for two years. Indira Gandhi returned to power in 1979. During this period she invited Sam Pitroda to develop the communication network in India. He was also advisor to Rajiv Gandhi following the death of Indira Gandhi. During this period of political turmoil, the country was also going through an economic crisis. 

India’s Economic Policy and the Communication Revolution 

In 1991, a Balance of Payments crisis brought India to the brink of bankruptcy. For obtaining a bailout from the International Monetary Fund or the IMF, India was forced to introduce several economic reforms (Not to take away any credit from Dr. Manmohan Singh, the then Finance Minister). Controls were dismantled, duties, tariffs and taxes were lowered, monopolistic state organizations were dismantled and the economy was opened to trade and investment. The private sector was encouraged by these reforms. As the ‘license raj’ partly ended, there was a surge in the businesses and India quickly entered the globalised world. Two of the biggest beneficiaries of these reforms were the Telecommunications and the Information Technology sectors.

The telecommunications infrastructure, which was wholly owned by the government, was opened to the private sector producing exemplary results. The regulatory constraints were eased in 2004 and now India boasts of the third largest telecommunications network in the world (OECD, 2007).  This was because of the steps taken by Mr. Sam Pitroda, widely known as the architect of the modern, state-of the art, communication telecommunication network that India possesses. The yellow coloured PCO (Public Call Offices) dotting the country are a result of the vision of Sam Pitroda. The electronic, and then the digital telephone exchanges, are a result of Mr. Sam Pitroda's meticulous planning and vision. The mobiles that you use everyday, are also a result of that.

Today, in 2015, India has the second largest population of mobile phone users in the world and has over 100 million Internet users (India Internet Usage). There are several Internet and mobile service providers in the country and their intense competition has resulted in cheaper mobile phone and Internet services. Though there is a difference in the speed of Internet connectivity between India and the western world, it is still much better than it was a decade ago.

During the last decade, India has become a hub for the world for outsourcing software services. This has resulted in faster transfer of not only technology, but manpower, media, and finance, from the western world to the country, creating millions of jobs and earning the country precious foreign exchange and at the same time enabling the country to have communication technology at par with the developed world.

Youth, who form a major chunk of India's population, have embraced the new media and produce content using their computers, laptops or their mobile phones, uploading it on video sharing platforms, blogs and social media networks. They prefer to read content online rather than read a book or newspapers. They prefer to interact with the medium rather than be passive receivers of information. This is the generation of tomorrow's global citizens.

Of course there are problems, but is technology to blame? Marshall McLuhan said that we shaped technology, and now technology is shaping us. Is it wrong? I am sure, we will be able to harness this very technology for the betterment of mankind. But then who is to blame for the problems we are facing? Sam Pitroda?

A footnote: I wonder if Mr. Sam Pitroda will ever read this. If he does, I am sure he will take it in the right spirit. This post is dedicated to him. Thank you, Mr. Pitroda.

Note: This series of posts is by no means a definitive guide about how it all happened. And I have also not resorted to documentation, or references. This is the story from my own eyes, as a witness and a participant in the evolution of communication in India.

Monday, June 22, 2015

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 6 - Software


A Windows PC 386, with 120 MB Hard disk and 4 MB RAM. Even my mobile phone is at least 3 times faster than the first PC I owned. What software could possibly run on that ancient PC? Well, you will be surprised to know, a lot many.

I bought my first PC to start my own business in graphic designing. If I remember right, I used CorelDraw 3 and Pagemaker 4 for my designs. And I did not have a colour monitor. It was all done in black and white and we used to use a colour chart to specify the colours that had to be printed. I used to mostly deal with a lot of screen printers, so the designs required mostly spot colours. There was, of course no Internet, and we used to refer to design books for ideas and Pantone Colour charts for colour combos. Surprisingly, CorelDraw and Pagemaker, both used to run very smoothly on that PC with 4 MB RAM.

Then came something called AGP card - Accelerated Graphics Port, which changed everything. It was a card which had to be inserted into the PC, fixed on a slot on the mother board. It helped the computer render millions of colours. Today, that card has become a miniaturized chip on the mother board. By this time, we had colour monitors, and faster PCs, which could render the colours.

The computers and the software were still meant for people who were rather experts. Computers were still out of reach of a large section of the populations.But with the designers and printers, the usage was growing. Things started changing rapidly after 1995, when the Internet came in. I remember, at that time, along with graphic designing, I also used to take up printing jobs. Printing letter heads, envelopes and visiting cards was a major revenue earner for us. After the Internet came in, within a couple of years, this part of our business died down. Organizations either simply stopped ordering letter heads, of the quantities got too less.

But during these days, all the time, the PCs kept getting faster, the storage spaces kept getting bigger, and the software were available in more and more advanced versions. By the time I got into full time teaching in 2006 and quit my business, we were using CorelDraw 12, PageMaker 7 and Photoshop 5. I had also started making animations, and the last version of Flash I used was Flash MX 2004.Even now, most people use only the Microsoft Office software, and the ones that we used for designing, are still used only by professionals. However, there is one major change.....

Mobile telephony has not only made communication easier, but also put easy-to-use software/applications - or 'apps' as they are called into the hands of the common man. Today, once you click a photograph, or shoot a video on your mobile phone, you can easily edit it, also give effects and upload it to YouTube, or send it across using WhatsApp, Facebook, or any email app. Graphic designing and film making, blogging and making web pages and websites, is no longer the domain of a few. Anyone having a smartphone can do all this, and more.

Truly, we have turned from consumers to active producers of content. And the world of media is no more in the hands of a few. Who is to be given credit for all this? Do watch out for my next post... the final in this series.

Till then, keep reading, and please do comment. And all graduates, if you find this interesting, visit

Sunday, June 21, 2015

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 5 - Social Media

Social Media

When Facebook was launched in 2004, I had started teaching in the Department Communication and Journalism, at the University of Mumbai. I remember my first lecture. I was afraid that I would embarrass myself. I had never faced a bunch of 20 youngsters together in my life. But I suppose the lecture went off well, because the then Head of the Department, Dr. Sanjay Ranade, did ask me to continue!

My students and I used to communicate with each other using Yahoo Groups, and Orkut. Remember Orkut? I am sure at least some of you do. It was fun, being on Orkut, creating groups, and interacting with so many friends. I know my students used to gossip a lot about the faculty. It was a lot of fun, and the first social media that we really used, apart from the Yahoo Groups, usually for exchange of notes and announcements.

We were not used to blogging much. I did start a few blogs, but was never really consistent till I have started writing everyday on this blog for the last 2 weeks. MySpace, which was launched in 2003, never gained much popularity at least here, in India. When Facebook was launched in 2004, we all thought it was another fad. First Orkut, then Facebook, and then there would be probably something else later. But no, Facebook caught the fancy of the young, and became insanely popular. Social media is almost synonymous with Facebook now. The award winning YouTube arrived in 2005, and was quickly bought by Google in 2006. It also became hugely popular, because of its very original software, which allowed people to upload their videos and show them to anyone online.

LinkedIn was launched in 2002, but became popular a little later. If Facebook is a site for fun, LinkedIn gained status as a platform for professionals to seek jobs, exchange thoughts and ideas. Twitter was launched in 2006, and we all know how popular it is and how it works. We also have Pinterest and Instagram, and scores of apps online and on mobile phones. Social media really took off when Internet became accessible on the mobile phones and people became really addicted to social media. Today probably the most popular is WhatsApp. Almost everyone I know is on it... all the time.

It has changed the way we communicate, and hence, it has changed the way we live. Studies have shown how excessive use of social media has led to several problems, like Social Media Anxiety Disorder, Cyberbullying, extreme addiction, and even schizophrenic behaviour.

My personal view, as I have written in a previous post is that in a few generations, we will be able to handle media better, use it for productivity rather than just for fun. I am sure, the humankind will not allow itself to deteriorate to extinction! We are the greatest survivors after all.

But to keep with the theme of this series of posts, computers, Internet, cameras and social media, have evolved together. While the speed of PCs developed, the other supporting hardware and software developed too. And all this time, for the last 40 odd years, we have been progressively become content creators, becoming more and more independent of the traditional media to communicate with each other, and with the world. The Internet itself, according to me, was born out of this need to communicate, to enable two-way communication when the traditional media prevented us from doing so. There are so many connotations to this, but more in another post.

Till then, keep reading, and please do comment. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 4 - The Internet

The Internet

I remember, in 1996, in a meeting, a client showed me the Internet. We browsed through Yahoo, one of the most popular websites and search engines at that time. I was amazed that I could just search for any subject and get so much information. I immediately wanted get it on my computer at home, but the only service provider at that time was VSNL - Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited and the cost was Rs.15000 for 100 hours! But very soon, on demand, the rates were brought down to an affordable Rs.1500 per 100 hours of browsing. There was, of course, a catch here. First, you needed to buy an external modem (about Rs.4000/-) and connect it to the phone line to connect to the Internet. There were no schemes or data packages other than the one mentioned. So if you did 100 hours of browsing, it translated to 200 phone calls, which in turn meant a whopping telephone bill. And I did get a bill of about Rs.4000/- which is like getting a bill of about Rs.30000/- now!

(Image src:

The best thing to do then, was to visit Internet Cafes, which had cropped up in a number of places in all localities. They allowed us to browse for about Rs.30 to Rs.40 per hour. This was much cheaper and we mostly used the Internet to exchange emails, or hunt for jobs.To save on time we spent on the Internet and also save money, we used to type our messages/content on a text file and carry it with us on a floppy, CD or a pen drive, so we got to browse more and spend less time typing. Sabeer Bhatia, who made Hotmail and then sold it to Microsoft was like God to many who had started living on the Internet. Almost everyone my age will have a Hotmail and a Yahoo ID.

The Internet used to 'come' in our computers through an external modem. To connect to the Internet, we had to double-click on the modem icon, and click on the 'Connect' button. Then after a series of clicks we used to get connected. We used a 56.6 Kbps (Kilo Bytes per second) modem, meaning, the maximum speed we could attain was 56.6 Kbps, but the maximum that I had ever got during that time was 44.1 Kbps. The art of designing websites was rather new, so people used heavy graphics randomly. I remember, I had waited almost an hour for the University of Mumbai's Home page to 'appear' on the screen. The logo used was 2 MB in file size!!!

We also had a service provider for some time called Caltiger (Ever heard of this one?) which offered FREE Internet services. The Kolkata based organisation shut down in 2003 because their free Internet services did not really work out. The only hitch with Caltiger was that the top of the screen had advertisements; but still, you could at least get the Internet free.

(Image source:

The rest, of course is history. The telephone network became digital, we got DSL modems allowing much higher speeds. Within a short time, from 44 Kbps, we could get Internet speeds of 1 Mbps at home, and much faster in organisations which could afford better hardware. Then of course came the WiFi routers, and we are no longer confined to the chair at the computer for accessing the Internet. The services too became cheaper and affordable, with so many data plans to choose from.

Internet on the mobile telephone appeared much later, and with 2G and then 3G services, everyone could connect to the Internet. (Do read my earlier post about Reliance Mobiles by going to this link: In India, more than 40% of those having mobile phones connect to the Internet exclusively using mobiles! This itself has been a major factor in us the consumers, becoming producers of content. In fact, though the computers became common in the 90's they still did not reach a large section of the population, because even though the computers became much cheaper and faster, computers still remained expensive enough to many. Moreover, you needed electricity to run a computer, which was not a luxury many had.

But more of that in my next post. Till then, happy surfing.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 3 - Storage Devices

I used to do a lot of graphic designing and make films for various corporates. One day, I went to show the first cut of a film that I had made for an organization. I went with the film to the concerned brand manager, and when he asked me for a CD, and I said I didn't have one, he thought I was joking. I put my hand in the pocket and brought out my brand new pen-drive and said, that his film was in it. Most people in the office thought I had gone crazy, or I had probably hit my head on something. I made him pull out his computer and put the pen-drive in the USB port, and viola! We had the film copied on to his PC in a few minutes! They did not even know the USB port. Of course it was entirely new to everyone including me at that time. But more about pen-drives later.

When we speak of storage devices, the first thing we think of is the hard disk drive or the HDD. As I said in my first post in this series, my first PC had a hard disk of a whopping 120 MB and the second one 1.2 GB. Then of course, the memory capacity of HDDs went on increasing rapidly, and now having a 500 GB or a 1 TB HDD is quite common. Have you ever opened a broken HDD? Do it, really. All it contains is a lot of circuits, and a small, thin plastic disk.

We used to be amazed by the amount of data these disks used to hold. We were always at our wits end when it came to transferring data. I am talking of the early 90's when we did not have the Internet. We used 5.25 inch floppy drives, which could get corrupted for no reason. Then we had the 3.5 inch floppy drives, a little bit sturdier, but still risky. I used to carry at least 2 copies of the data in different floppies just to be sure. Moreover, the data these floppies could hold was very limited.  The standard 5.25 inch floppy could hold only 1.2 MB data and the 3.5 inch floppy, 1.44 MB of data. Remember, our files also used to be much smaller than today.

(Image source:

Then came something called the Zip Drive, which was like the 3.5 inch floppy, but was much sturdier and came in two variants - 100 MB and 250 MB. But the real change came when Phillips and Sony together developed the CD, or the compact disk. Suddenly, we had a capacity to transfer 600 to 750 MB of data. The CDs were safer, had less chances of getting corrupt, and also had a long shelf life. I still have some of the older CDs with me, and they still work fine. How significant was this?

In 1995, when Bill Gates gave Windows 95 to the world (in an extremely embarrassing ceremony, when the PC crashed during inauguration), the operating system came in 15 floppies! By 1998, the CDs had come in, and Windows 98 could be installed using just one CD. And why not, because a CD could hold data of 500 floppies!

The next big thing was the DVD - the Digital Video Drive, with a capacity of 4.37 GB or 8.5 GB, ones that we use today. The DVD changed a lot of things for us. One, it could carry a LOT of data. Second, we could watch films in a much better quality than the CDs. Why was that? Why was the movies in a DVD better than those on a CD? And today, we have the BluRay disk, with a storage capacity of 25 GB, with still higher quality of picture quality of movies. More about the movie quality and CD-BluRay in a later blog. Promise...

Along with these developments, the USB drive was also developed and we got two important devices. External HDDs and Pen Drives. External HDDs are a godsend to many, especially for those who have to transfer huge amounts of data. And I don't have to speak about how important the pen drive is to us, common humans!

But back to the story in the beginning. That first pen drive that I amazed my clients with, the one that gave me the status of being the only designer who was also techno savvy, cost me a whopping Rs.2900/- (yes, it did) and the capacity of that pen drive? 128 MB!

Let's link the three posts in this series. These are all parallel evolutions, ultimately leading to us, the consumers of content, consumers of media, turn into producers. The PC, Cameras, and Storage devices, all kept developing and complementing each other. I will deal with another interesting parallel evolution in the next post.

Here are the links to the first two in this series:

Do enjoy the rain, but protect your storage devices. Don't allow them to get wet. Nothing is more irritating and sometimes devastating than losing precious data.

#mediastudies #MediaEconomics #DigitalMedia

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 2

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 2

I wrote about computers in my last post in this series. Let's look at another technology that evolved along with computers and changed the way we communicate.

Still Cameras

I remember, when I was in school, we had a box camera, with which we could take black and white photographs. I used it for a long time, at least till 1983. I still have some of those pictures. From 1979 to mid-1980's the price of silver shot up more than 10 times, making silver nitrate, an important ingredient in photographic film and processing very expensive. This in turn, shot up the price of film rolls and photography as a hobby, simply went out of reach of many people.

The next camera (Rs.5000) I bought was for my wife the day my son, Tejas was born. December 01, 1994. This one also was a film based camera and by this time, we had colour film commonly available. The first photograph from this camera was of my son, taken by my wife, with me holding him in one hand, just about the length of my forearm. Well, now my son will easily be able to pick me up, probably with one hand! Still, photography was not something you did frequently. One postcard size print cost about Rs.6, so for one roll of the film, you ended up spending about 200 - 300 rupees. And there was no guarantee that all your photographs would come good. You couldn't just delete a bad photograph. There were of course expensive cameras always available, but only photography professionals used them.

Digital cameras arrived in the late 90's, but became commonly available and affordable in the 90's. This brought about a major change. Suddenly, we could preview the photographs, and more than that, click as many photographs as our memory card allowed. From being an expensive hobby, photography suddenly became very very affordable. There were also a wide range of cameras to choose from, higher the megapixels, higher the price. But still, photography became affordable to the general public.

Video Cameras

The evolution of video cameras was more interesting. In the late 80's we had those large VCR cameras, used by wedding photographers, recording on those huge, book sized video cassettes. The quality was just OK, but that was the best we had. While this was going on, Sony made the Beta Camcorder, or Betacam, in 1982 and later, in 1993, Digital Betacam. These were professional cameras used only by the television industry, giving high resolution images for good broadcast quality. Then in rapid succession, Sony also introduced Digital8/Hi8, cameras, and then DV (Digital Video) and MiniDV cameras. The most important thing was they were handycams - cameras that you could hold in your hands to record videos. They also got cheaper as the demand increased.

The technology inside the camera too kept developing. From a single CCDs, we got 3 CCD cameras. These Charged Coupled Devices were responsible to give the the best possible colour quality. Many other manufacturers too started making these cameras. My first 3CCD camera was a Panasonic and it gave amazing quality of skin colour and cost me Rs.64000/-. After using it for a couple of years, I actually lost it in a local train.

By then, the High Definition cameras had arrived. I now have a HD camera made by Canon. This tiny camera can record full HD video for one hour and gives me crystal clear images even on a large screen. But more about resolution and picture quality in another post.

If you have read my previous post, you will realise that computers and cameras, but evolved hand-in-hand. From 1980's to present, computers have evolved from 286 Mhz to more than 3 GHz processing speeds, and cameras from a VCR recorder to HD (handy) cams. More importantly, both now fit into the palm of your hand, and most of the times, they are built together, and they are affordable and can be easily used by anyone.

More in the next post.... click

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 1

I call myself a successful digital immigrant. Marc Prensky defined Digital Natives as the ones who have been born with digital technology, digital devices, for whom the digital devices is not a new phenomenon, today's young population. Digital Immigrants are those who saw digital technology developing and evolving and adapted to the digital world - people like me!

I have been very lucky to have been not only a witness, but a participant in the evolution of the digital age. In this series, I am going to share the story(s) of how several technologies evolved over the last 35 years in India and across the world, slowly but surely turning us, passive consumers of media content, into active producers. How technology - both hardware and software, and skill-sets developed over the years, especially in India, and how it has affected the way we communicate, and hence the way we live and go about our lives.

My students (at least the one's who have attended my New Media lectures) might find it repetitive, and some content will indeed be repeated from my earlier posts. Also, the posts in this series may appear to have loose ends, which I will tie up in the last post of the series. So here goes....

From Consumers to Producers - The Indian Story - Part 1


I first touched a computer when I was 28 years old. I was extremely scared, thinking I might break something, or something might just explode! Please bear with me, but I had seen a computer only in science fiction and James Bond films. It was a 286 MHz machine. I am unaware of its configuration, but I used it as a word processor with only 'Wordstar' as the software.

I bought my first computer in 1992 for Rs.35000/-. Many will be surprised by the configuration. It had a 386(40386)  processor, meaning it had a processing power of 386 MHz, much lesser than many mobile phones available today (My cell phone has a processor of 1.8 GHz!). The computer had a whopping 120MB (Yes, no typo here. Its MB and not GB) and 4 MB of RAM! It was the best PC in the neighbourhood. If you have seen the film 'Matrix', the screen was identical - black, with green characters. There was no mouse. To start Windows, I had to boot up the computer, and type 'Win' at eh C:\> prompt.

In 1995, I upgraded by PC to a 486 with 16 MB RAM and a 1.2 GB Hard disk, and a white screen instead of a green one. I thought it could not get better than that. How wrong I was! Within months of upgrading my PC, there came a 586 Mhz machine. I went ahead and took a crash course in assembling computers and started upgrading my own PCs. I remember making my first video using a PC with a 533 MHz processor and 512 MB RAM.

The rest is history, folks. Computers kept getting faster and cheaper. Almost everyone I know has a computer now. The speeds at which these computers work are mind boggling. My mobile now has a processor about 3 times faster than my first PC. I am not going into any more technical details. They are just too many.

But what is the significance of this? Today, instead of only a few people, anyone can do word processing. Anyone can print a document at home, write a book and also do the layout, send an email or a fax, watch a movie or even make a movie at home. What was once the privilege of very few with very deep pockets, is within the reach of the common man.

But more about that in the next post.

An end note: I am proud of the fact that my father was one the first people in this country to use a computer. He managed the EDP (Electronic Data Processing) centre in LIC, where he used to work, waaay back in 1969! The one that he used was HUGE, with data tapes and data cards, cards with holes in them to detect data from the tapes. Here's a pic of one:

#mediastudies #MediaEconomics #DigitalMedia

Monday, June 15, 2015

Karlo Duniya Mutthi Mein - Part 3

The Internet was launched in India in 1995. Interestingly, India's mobile services were also launched in the same year. When I got my first mobile phone in 1997, it was a heavy walkie-talkie like machine, which, had to be held in the hand, for the fear of tearing away my pocket.!

The outgoing call rate, when I got my mobile was about Rs.12 outgoing and Rs.6 incoming! We had a second-to-second billing plan too. It used to be very funny, with people making as short a call as possible to avoid hefty phone bills. I remember, I had a client who would ask me if I was calling from my mobile, and if I answered yes, would immediately cut the line and call be back from his landline. It was convenient to own a mobile, and it was also a status symbol, but it was damned expensive.

In 2003, Reliance launched its CDMA technology based mobile services, after laying out 80000 kms. of fibre cables across the length and breadth of the country. Everywhere you went, you could see the Reliance workers digging by the roadside and laying the blue coloured cables.

Why was this a game changer? Because at that time, the outgoing rates for all mobile services were in the range of Rs. 4 - 6 per minute and incoming calls were still charged. Overnight, Reliance changed the game, turned the market upside-down by charging 40 paise for Reliance-to-Reliance calls and FREE incoming. The other operators were forced to come to an agreement to make the incoming calls free.

Image source:

One fine morning, we all woke up to the 'Karlo Duniya Mutthi Mein' campaign for the launch of Reliance Infocomm. "Ek soch thi, ek sapna tha bole har koi, badhe har koi" campaign was launched with a scheme with mobile phones at Rs.500/-. Overnight the elitist mobile phone reached the hands of the common man. All credit goes to Reliance for placing the mobile phone into the hands of your local bhajiwala (vegetable vendor) and the local chaiwala.

The rest, my friends, is history. When mobile services were launched in 1995, for five years, the mobile subscriber base barely reached 5 million. Today, India boasts of the largest mobile subscriber base, and we have not even covered half the population yet! Reliance not only brought about a communication revolution, but paved way for faster growth of mobile telephony across India, and in turn, for the status of media as of now. I wrote about Gulshan Kumar and Moser Baer in the previous two posts. There are several other game changers, people and organizations which made media what it is today.

Mukesh Ambani, while addressing the stock holders meeting 2 days back announced the the Reliance Jio 4G services will be launched in December. The other mobile operators are shrugging it off, making several comments in the media about how the technology used by Reliance is not tested, and how they were ready to face the challenge. However, I am sure everyone is gearing up towards this event, because, Reliance is the only operator which has won the license to provide 4G across India (Someone please correct me if I am wrong). Mukesh Ambani and Anil Ambani, who owns Reliance Communication, with 3G services, have already signed an agreement, under which, Reliance Communication will lease out its towers to Reliance Jio.

So get ready for Reliance Jio folks, the next game changer is about to be launched.

Here's are links to the famous, and game changing Karlo Duniya Mutthi Mein Campaigns

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Karlo Duniya Mutthi Mein - Part 2

When I bought my first CD Writer, it cost me a whopping Rs.16000. Again, when I bought my first DVD Writer, it cost me Rs.8000/-. The cost of blank CDs used to be about Rs.125/- when CD Writers came into the hardware market. The blank DVDs used to cost about Rs.50/- for the 4.3 GB capacity.

What is a CD or a DVD? A piece of plastic? Today they are cheap, and if you buy in bulk, you may get CDs/DVDs for as low as Rs.5. Then why do the audio and video DVDs and VCDs cost more than a 100 bucks? Since I was in the business of content creation, I do know that it is not the blank CDs or DVDs, but the content that goes into them. I also understand the distress of original content developers when they see their content getting pirated. But more about piracy and media economics in another post on another day.

In March 2007, when the MRP of movie CDs and DVDs were above Rs.100 at least, Moser Baer launched 101 film titles. The cost of VCDs was Rs.28, and that of DVDs was Rs.34! This was quite revolutionary. Though most titles in the collection were of older films, there were many which I had heard or read of, but never had a chance to see. I remember, I got a good scolding from my wife, when one day, I picked up 20 DVDs to watch. Frankly, I have still not watched 3 of them yet!

But this move was revolutionary. The market penetration was well planned, with about 100000 outlets. A very important thing happened. Instead of trying to watch movies online on slow network connections, people started to buy movies. The revenues started flowing back into the movie industry through Moser Baer. The Moser Baer DVDs cheaper even now. But what is significant is that people understood that the cost of DVDs is actually so low, and they were paying a premium for even lousy movies. Just look at the mathematics - you have to pay about 60 to 100 bucks even to get a movie on rent. Instead, why now own a DVD?

Well, just a short story today, but Moser Baer's move into the entertainment market through DVDs was certainly a game changer. Enjoy your remaining weekend.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Karlo Duniya Mutthi Mein - Part 1

I was working for a pharmaceutical company and posted as Manager in Ahmedabad for two years - 1989 to 1991. Those days were quite turbulent, one, on my professional front, because I was trying to make inroads into a very tough pharmaceutical market, and second on the political front. Those days were of unrest, and riots during the time of Lalkrishna Advani's Ram Rath Yatra. I saw the horrors of mindless killing, and mob fury first-hand. During Diwali, rarely now, but I still wake up from deep sleep in the middle of the night thinking there is police firing going on somewhere.

This was also a period of turmoil in the music industry. In July 1990, the film Aashiqui was released and became a super duper hit. But the credit for its success goes to its music, which was released in 1989 by Gulshan Kumar. This is a story in itself.

Coming from a humble background, Gulshan Kumar began his career in the music industry by producing cheap cassettes of music of older hit films. With no clearly defined Intellectual Property Rights, Gulshan Kumar rose quickly and made millions. In 1990, film music was very expensive to buy. If I remember right, an original music cassette used to cost anywhere between Rs.75 to Rs.150 and was not affordable to many. So the pirated music cassettes industry flourished. We used to get a C60 or a C90 cassettes of pre-recorded songs, for about Rs.100, and could get a customized cassettes with a choice of our songs for about Rs.150.

This was the time when Gulshan Kumar's T-Series exploded on the scene. He sold the cassettes of Aashiqui to consumers at Rs.28! You went anywhere, you could hear Aashiqui songs played, just like the Qurbani music earlier in 1980. Remember, there was no Internet from where you could download music, and computers were not common at all. An original cassette at Rs.28 turned the music industry upside-down, disrupted the existing market. But it did bring music to the common man at a much much cheaper price.

This is one of the game changers in the music industry, and hence the media world too. It is an important lesson in Media Economics. You never know when the river of revenue will change its path, creating a new course to flow, flooding everything existing.

I can't end this blog post without Aashiqui, which gave us affordable music. Here's a link to the song on YouTube.

Meri umar ke naujavanon, relive your past. Enjoy.

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Colour of Love - Part 2

What is the colour of love? Red? So when you give a red rose to someone, it communicates your love, right? It's yellow for friendship, and black for hate! Well, here's some food for thought.

The festival of Vasant Panchami is celebrated on the fifth day of the Indian month of Magh - or the spring season. Vasant Panchami is celebrated as Goddess Saraswati's birthday. Her statues are dressed in yellow and worshipped. The yellow colour has importance as it is the predominant colour of blooms in nature, especially of the mustard flowers.

("Mustard Fields" by Nitin Das - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Vasant Panchami is also associated with Shingar Rasa, and Kamadev, the God of love and desire, along with his wife, Rati, and friend Vasant . A story from the Puranas says that Lord Shiva burnt Kamadev to ashes for disturbing his penace. Devotees apply sandalwood paste to ease the pain from the stinging burns. Since it is related to Kamadev, yellow colour is considered the colour of love.

So, apart from celebrating Valentine's day, will you also celebrate Vasant Panchami, and give a yellow rose to the one you love?

Media Economics with Mallika Sherawat

No. I haven't gone crazy. Before you form your first impressions on 'seeing' those words, wait. Do read on before you make any assumptions.

Let me continue with what I wrote before. The first glance - pehli nazar is so important, because you tend to immediately form an opinion about someone, or some thing. This has also been researched in the context of websites. A study by Lindgaard in 2006 showed that a visitor could take less than 500 milliseconds to decide whether to stay on a website or simply move on. The more aesthetically pleasing your website is, better the stickiness (tendency of the viewer to remain glued to the website) of the website.

So isn't it natural that the sexy, and beautiful Mallika Sherawat's website would not only attract viewers, but also keep them on the website for a longer time? What's that got to do with Media Economics? A LOT, my freinds, a lot.

(Picture source:

Do visit her website. Here's the link:

On the home page, you have a photograph, and the caption clearly says that the website is hosted in association with Enter the website and you see a video on the left, a sexy picture of the beautiful actress standing on the right, and links to several sections/pages of the website. That's Visual Communication!

But Whoa! What's there on the top? Google Ads - Barbie dolls!!!. And then beside Mallika's standing picture? Advertisement by Amul! Utterly Butterly Delicious? Mallika? And at the bottom of the page? Another Google ad - this one of - hold your breath - Zee Institute of Media. Now that's very, very intelligent.

Agreed, that they are all Google Ads, but then, people who handle these brands/products might be specifying the sites on which their ad should appear? And even if they don't directly specify, look at the revenue flows. The advertisers are charged by several methods including pay-per-click method. Now that's Media Planning and Buying (credit goes to my friend and colleague Mr. Kamal Bhagtani for this - he does not exist - he is not on Facebook!). Look where the advertising revenue is going. Now that's Media Economics.

Need I really say more? This is how you learn Media Economics, apart from the books. See the practical application of the concepts you learn about marketing, product placement, advertising, and promotions. This is how you learn the practical application of Visual Communication and how can it be used to attract the target audience.

This is the list of companies/products/brands that have advertised on Mallika Sherawat's website:

Barbie - Barbie in Princess Power
Zee Institute of Media
Acme Oasis - Construction Company
Microsoft Azure
Official Dubai Ad for vacations- Plan you Dubai vacation today
Coke Studio@MTV
Go Daddy - Dainik Bhaskar
Amul Butter
Fashion and You - Exclusive Shopping for Women
Ask Me Bazaar
Hiba Party Suits
Saarthi Group
Sobha Developers
Facebook Page on the film Politics of Love
Marriot Hotel
Godrej Properties
Bharti Axa Life Insurance
Sheltrex Group
The First Group Dubai
Khemani Group
Portea Medical
Runwal MyCity
Wadhwa Group

Talk about Media Economics now!

Lastly, you have to give credit to Mallika Sherawat. Not only has she made optimum use of her website, right from associating with, but she also sells space on her website. She, or her consultant does space selling - media selling very intelligently. An actress who 'literally exploded on the Indian screen', has successfully made inroads in Hollywood, and whose famous quotes include

"I am single. Waiting for a man who has more balls than me."

or has this to say about the media,

"Whew! Did I say too much? Will I offend these linguistically challenged gossip columnists posing as Journalists whose writing is pathetic than my acting."

she certainly knows how to use the media and make money. Whew, I wish I was sexy too!!! Could have made some money through my website.

Mallika, are you listening?

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Pehli Nazar - Love at First Sight

Haven't you ever fallen in love at first sight? With a man or a woman, with a tourist destination, a phone, a dress, a saree, a tie, a shirt, a pair of shoes, a watch? Someone, or something you just saw was made just for you, and you simply had to have it? Well, you are certainly not the first. And the reason you did fall in love at first sight was because of the 'Halo' Effect.

Visual communication is a fascinating subject. Every living and non-living thing communicates something or the other. Of course, you need to be able to recognize it. But usually we do, like we form an opinion about a thing when we first see them.

Edward Thorndike coined the term 'Halo Effect', a cognitive bias, where we form an impression about a person, a product, or a brand, the moment we see them for the first time. This 'first impression' is quite persistent, and overshadows the judgment about other qualities of that person.

Several experiments have been conducted to study the halo effect. Let's take a look...

In one experiment, it was found that teachers expect better performance from students who have a better physical appearance.

Don't we all make the mistake of judging a book by it's cover? Or thinking that a movie would be fantastic based on it's promos? Studies have shown that the first visual impression of a product affects the consumers, who believe that because the product is aesthetically pleasing it would also be of a good quality.

There is another interesting study. Participants were given functionally identical phones to use to complete similar and familiar tasks. The phones, were functionally similar, but were dissimilar in appearance; one was like brand new, good looking, the other had a less appealing appearance. The results showed that users found the more appealing phone to be more usable.

A search on the Internet will reveal several such studies which demonstrate the importance of the halo effect. Visual communication is an interesting subject to study, and I will keep sharing some interesting concepts here.

But all said and done, that 'pehli nazar ka pehla pyar' (Love at first sight) is unforgettable, right?

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

The Colour of Love?

Colour communicates. Period.

When I was in college, we did not have these 'days'; traditional day, friendship day, saree day, blue day, or even the Valentine's Day. Quite boring, isn't it?

But I have been always intrigued by Valentine's Day. This particular import of western culture has been picked up by the young, commercialized by people selling everything from greeting cards to flowers, then further popularised by the media, by giving full page space to the ads selling these products. I am not going to judgmental about it. You like it, go ahead and celebrate it. Present a red rose to the person you love, or think you love. But is the colour of love RED? Deep down, do you really think so? If the answer is NO, here is probably the reason...

We have ben learning about the meanings and psychological effects of colour based on the colour wheel, developed by western philosophers, researchers, and thinkers. However, we have forgotten the Indian context of colours and their significance in the Indian context.

This is what Natyashastra says...

Bharata Muni enunciated the eight Rasas in the Nātyasāstra, an ancient work of dramatic theory, written during the period between 200 BC and 200 AD. Each rasa, according to Nātyasāstra, has a presiding deity and a specific colour. There are 4 pairs of rasas. For instance, Hāsya arises out of Sringara. The Aura of a frightened person is black, and the aura of an angry person is red. Bharata Muni established the following:
  • Śṛngāram (शृङ्गारं) Love, Attractiveness. Presiding deity: Vishnu. Colour:green.
  • Hāsyam (हास्यं) Laughter, Mirth, Comedy. Presiding deity: Ganesha. Colour: white.
  • Raudram (रौद्रं) Fury. Presiding deity: Rudra. Colour: red.
  • Kāruṇyam (कारुण्यं) Compassion, Tragedy. Presiding deity: Yama. Colour:dove coloured.
  • Bībhatsam (बीभत्सं) Disgust, Aversion. Presiding deity: Shiva. Colour: blue
  • Bhayānakam (भयानकं) Horror, Terror. Presiding deity: Kala. Colour: black
  • Vīram (वीरं) Heroic mood. Presiding deity: Indra. Colour:wheatish brown
  • Adbhutam (अद्भुतं) Wonder, Amazement. Presiding deity: Brahma. Colour: yellow

Interesting? I have much, much more to tell you about colour in the Indian context. But more about it in the next post.

Why the pessimism?

Should we be really so pessimistic about technology, especially the emerging new media technologies? Communication is a social construct, born out of the need to be able to survive. We, the Homo sapiens, have persisted and survived, and progressed over the past 100,000 years, mainly because we have developed the skill of communicating with each other. What has really changed, is the way we have started communicating. If we overlap timelines of evolution of the present human race and that of evolution of media, media has been around for a miniscule fraction of the time.

The problem is that we have simply not been able to really understand this new form of communication. We don't know how to deal with it. We are mesmerized by the moving images, captivated by them, and are unable to distinguish fact from fiction. We develop parasocial relationships with the fictional characters on television. We are addicted to the shows, to the games we play on our play stations, and to the fascinating online social media.

When we buy a new mobile phone, we spend a few days trying out the features, playing with it, downloading apps, watching videos, taking pictures. We are in awe of the new, wonderful technology that has fallen into our hands. If you look at the larger picture, the humankind has found a new toy for communicating with each other. We are all in awe of the power of communication, and in our new- found ability to communicate. Where the traditional media failed in allowing us two-way communication, we have now the power of social media.

True, there are several detractors of new media, and they are probably right. As Jean Baudrillard says, we have become individual units, each with a smooth, cool surface of the screen, connected to each other only when we are in a network. There are several other scholars who treat new media almost with contempt. They could be right when we think of the present generations. But in the larger context, we, as humans, are in a constant state of evolution. New media technologies are a way of life today, and we are in awe of these technologies. Humans are survivors. We will get over the awe of new media in a few generations, and use it simply as a part of our life. We will learn when to, and when not to use the technology and how to use it to the optimum. I don't think we need to be pessimistic about it.

It's just a matter of time.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Power to the Digital Nation

When I leave my College after 6.30 p.m., I usually catch Market Mantra on the All India Radio while driving home. Apart from the happenings in the stock market, experts are called to discuss economy and developmental issues of the country. In one of the broadcasts a few days back, there was an interesting discussion on infrastructure development and the importance of power generation.

Though I did not catch the name of the expert, he made some important points. He spoke about how the present government was quite on track in the development of infrastructure, but was quite critical about the issue of power generation. He said that one of the industries that the government was trying to get to invest in India was the electronic industry, more specifically, the companies manufacturing Integrated Circuits, which  are the heart of all electronic goods. To manufacture electronic chips, the plants require uninterrupted power supply. Even a second of interruption can severely affect the quality of these electronic chips because the miniature nature of circuitry.

Now why is this so important for media students? We have to remember, that the media world is rapidly converging into the mobile space. Almost all content generated now, is made for multiple platforms of delivery, and probably the most important is the mobile devices. Though India has made rapid progress in digital media - India has already surpassed the US in terms of Internet users - with India's population, there is a tremendous scope for expanding the digital media market. Despite the huge numbers, the percentage of India's population using the Internet is still low.

The present spurt in growth is because of proliferation of the 3G networks across the country, along with the availability of cheaper smart phones. However, we still depend on imported chips to be installed into our mobile phones, keeping the price of smart phones still beyond the reach of a huge population. If we want to really become a digital nation, we need chip manufacturing units in the country, and that can be only possible with uninterrupted electric supply. This cannot be achieved by depending on the hydro-electric or thermal power generation, and certainly not on fossil fuels. We will have to turn to renewable resources like the solar and wind energy, and of course, atomic and nuclear fuel. There is simply no option but to build more nuclear reactors to make progress. There are issues in land acquisition, rehabilitation and environmental safety, and they need to be addressed. But is there a viable alternative, really?

Those in the media certainly know the importance of producing and distributing content over mobile phones. And we know that there is a HUGE market out there, waiting to be tapped to sell the media products to. I know this is a rather long shot, but India's media can really grow only if the idea of Digital Nation takes shape, and, in turn, that dream depends on power generation capacity of the country.

Here's a link to Digital india website :

Friday, June 5, 2015

"Darling, switch to that advertisement channel please, I want to catch the news in the breaks."

Any product manufactured, has a life cycle. There is a phase of development and launch, followed by the growth and the maturity phase, leading to decline and then the end. So do media products follow a similar life cycle? If not similar, what kind of life cycle do they follow? Do they have a life cycle at all? 

(Image source:

In this post, lets speak of the economics of news media products. I had a lot of fun when I had presented a paper titled 'The Life-cycle of News'. As soon as I uttered the title, there was a sanctimonious uproar by some members in the audience who actually felt insulted, that I called 'news' a product. Some agreed with what I presented, some did not. I still reiterate - 'news' is a media product. I cannot fathom why some people feel it cannot be so. Interestingly, my friends in the news media agree, but some who 'study' media, don't.

Let's consider the following:

News does not come free.
It costs a lot to produce news, probably more than reality shows or a scripted show.
Some news stories are followed up, are reported, broadcast over a period of time.
Some news stories are one-time.
The popularity of news is rated just like other shows.
The news readers become celebrities, just like actors in shows.
The news bulletins are given fancy names.
News, newspapers are advertised.
News is sold to advertisers, and advertising rates decided on popularity/readership/viewership ratings.
News is also advertised. Oh they actually make promos of the prime time news bulletins, so they can be sold to the viewers.
And there are ads in between news stories.

Isn't this enough to call 'news' a product? And I am not even making a comment on news and news media being an important part of society, being the fourth estate, the watchdog of the society, the keeper of social justice, being the moral police, being judgmental,  conducting media trials, exposing corruption...... oh well!

(Image source:

Vineet Jain said in an interview, "We are not in the newspaper business. If 90 percent of your revenues come from advertising, you are in the advertising business." No one could have put it better. So like it or not, in media economics terms, 'news' is a product, and it is produced and 'manufactured'  like any other product in any industry. But unlike other industries, its a media product, so news as a product is advertised, but in turn, also advertises other products. More about that in another blog post. 

Just one thing, so that my stance is clear - Journalism, by itself, is sacrosanct. News IS a product.

So I am justified when I say, "Darling, switch to that advertisement channel please, I want to catch the news in the breaks."

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Danger ahead! Don't (re)RUN

In my last post I wrote about the economics of reality shows. In the same vein, let's explore the economics of re-runs on television. 

Some television shows are runaway hits. The only problem is, these shows don't run away; they don't even go away! They keep 'running' on one channel or the other. How many times have your seen Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan? 


And B.R. Chopra's Mahabharat? Whenever any channel buys the rights to a movie, it 'premieres' it. So we see a 'TV Premiere' of the same movie on several channels! The channels also go to the extent of advertising it on radio, newspapers and putting up large hoardings at premier locations for the motorists who drive to office daily. Why do we see these reruns at all? Afterall, audience is always hungry for something new to watch, to enjoy, and to pass time. Well, it's not as simple as that.

Television programmers favour reruns because of commercial as well as audience gratification. Reruns on television provide the audience a sense of nostalgia. Some people relate episodes to personal episodes in their life. For example, the moment I think of Ramayan, I get nostalgic, because it used to allow us to play cricket on the empty streets! 

I relate to the 'Samay' in Mahabharat, because I had received a tongue-lashing from my mom, for the 'samay' at which I had got up from bed - exactly when the 'Samay' in Mahabharat was explaining how Shakuni won the game for the Kauravas, and how it gave Mahabharat probably the most important twist in the story - I also got my ear twisted! Everyone who watches a rerun, probably remembers something from the past, making watching it enjoyable.


But there are commercial reasons too. In my last post, I touched upon the economics of reality shows. The cost of syndication of a rerun is almost minimal, arguably even lesser than producing an unscripted reality show. Producing an original programme requires money for every new episode and becomes a far more expensive proposition than reruns of older shows.

Also, for reruns of very popular shows, advertisers too don't hesitate in spending, as they are assured of a dedicated audience. Most channels now run 24X7. It is almost impossible for any channel to fill up 24 hours with original programming, all with new and original content. The channels have to rely on reruns, and repeats too. Though the reason for repeats is mostly to allow viewers to catch up with what they could not watch.

However, trends in television economics are fast changing. For popular shows, the cost of syndication has gone up. In some cases, reruns have failed to garner the required viewership ratings. Too many reruns have faded the excitement and the feeling of nostalgia. Moreover, popular shows have a rerun on one channel or the other, so viewers could have already watched a rerun. With so many channels, this should not come as a surprise. 

The other challenge to the business of reruns is the Internet and the mobile phones. Most popular serials are now available free online. They are also uploaded in a highly compressed format (to reduce data consumption), so viewers can watch them on their mobile devices while on the go. The ad revenue flows have changed over the last few years, with the Internet and mobiles eating into the revenue pie of the traditional media.

Being a media student, I cannot but wonder where this is heading to. One thing, though, is certain. The next few years will decide the future of economics of television, and revenue flows in the media business. And all this is happening when the Media, Entertainment and Advertising sector are growing at a CAGR of a whopping 13%. Don't believe me? Here's a link:

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Really? The Economics of Reality Television

Why do people watch reality shows? Why are they so hooked, mesmerised and addicted to them? Research has shown that some people watch reality because it deals with real people in real-life situations. Some watch simply because they like to see other people in painful, embarrassing and humiliating situations, and enjoy laughing at them. Some people seek catharsis, others seek sensation and seek the pleasure of being openly voyeuristic. The Uses and Gratifications theory states that the audience chooses the programmes that it feels gratified by, and discards or avoids other content in media.

The media, in turn, capitalizes on this behaviour and produces reality shows - simply because they sell, and earn the channels the much wanted revenue. But wait... there is also another important thing about these reality shows too. Generally, in a reality show, channels do not have to hire established actors or celebrities (apart from the judges). In many cases, there are no sets other than just one. Most of the action is uncontrolled and unscripted, doing away with script writer and directors. Overall, the cost of producing a reality show is quite often, much lesser than producing a scripted serial, series, or other scripted programmes. Even news production involves a massive team behind the newsreader, who is just the face of news.

Thus, it is a win-win situation for all. The audience gets its 'kicks', and the media provides the audience with what it wants (but not what it needs), while raking in the moolah. That is how the economics of reality shows works. And that is why understanding media and studying media is so exciting - quite different than any other sector. No other sector engages the audience, and hence the consumer of the goods that it produces, as the media does. No other consumer, other than the consumer of media is as involved with a product as a media consumer. Exciting, and fascinating, isn't it?

*Reality Shows image source:

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What's so great about media?

What's so great about media? So it's there, omnipresent, when I eat, sleep, drink, play, study, teach, learn...... So what?
Well, let's look at it from the Media Economics angle. Like all the other goods, media also produces so many products. TV serials, news, reality shows, and what not. But there is a difference. Suppose I manufacture, say, a watch. Really speaking, I have no connection with you, the consumer. At the most, I will provide you some after-sales service, and pretend that I care a lot about you.
But think of this - with due respect to Amir Khan and Ashutosh Gowarikar ......
I produce a Lagaan. When I am making it, I first connect with you with the promos and ads. I also release music and A R Rehman does his magic for me, my revenue earning starts, and my connection with you gets strengthened. Then I release the film, it becomes a hit, and I earn hundreds of crores. You all love me for the film, you also love the characters. You identify yourself with them, and connect with the story, because of the power of the narrative.
I then sell the satellite rights, and you watch Lagaan again and again, and fall in love with it so many times. Remember, I am still earning revenue. And don't forget the overseas rights.
I release the film on CDs and DVDs, again connecting with you, and again earning revenue. And when the hype starts dying out, I release 'Making of Lagaan'. By this time, the channels have done several 'TV Premieres', and after some more time, I release it again in the theatres, earning more revenue.
Almost exactly 14 years after it was release, Lagaan still remains in your hearts, and I still keep making more money.
That, my friends is one of the unique features of Media Economics. Media and media products maintain an almost lifelong connection, and keep earning revenue. You may either love or hate media, but you simple cannot avoid it, and cannot avoid paying for it!!!