media industry in India has undergone through a massive change
in the last five years as compared to perhaps previous decades.
In spite of its ubiquitous presence the Broadcasting Industry
is still in its infancy in the country. There are a number of
similarities between the development of electronic media in India
with that of Europe wherein the control of airwaves was in the
hands of the government for most of the 20th century and the winds
of change were ushered in by the cable and satellite industry.
Television in Europe is too is pretty complex and is a picture
of constant change. Europe is an amalgamation of different countries,
cultures, languages and different media economics. This picture
has emerged over the last ten, twenty years. Up to early 1980’s
the public broadcasting system dominated in the 17 countries of
Western Europe. Against some 40 public channels in 1980 there
were only four commercial channels, in only three countries(Luxembourg,
Finland and the UK). At the end of the 20th century the balance
has shifted. As per European Audio Visual observatory there are
about 3000 television channels in 2003. Similarly India too had
a monopolistic public boradcasting system till early 90's.
advent of cable and satellite television viz. "Invasion form
the sky" that Indians were initiated into 24 hours of news
and entertainment in 1991 -92. A small start of 4 odd channels
has mashroomed into 400 plus channels today.
Indian Television Industry - A Brief History
Television was introduced experimentally in India in 1959 under
the aegis of state run radio company, Akashvani (All India Radio)
after much debate about whether the country needed television
or not. Programming consisted of two hours of programming per
week and gradually expanded to include folk dancing and music,
an occasional play and programs directed towards women. Regular
broadcasts did not commence till 1965.
The 1982 Asian Games held in New Delhi provided opportunities
for innovative programming and live national broadcasts, as well
as new opportunities for advertising. The Games also prompted
the induction of colour Television broadcast, albeit after an
intense debate about the requirement of such a luxury.
In 1984, serial madness took hold with Hum Log (We the People)
a soap about the struggles and triumphs of a middle class family
and Buniyaad (foundation) about partition became national craze.
This was the first exposure that the entertainment poor Indians
had with daily soaps and they were an instant hit. This was followed
by serialization of mythical stories that bought entire nation
to a standstill during their telecast. Ramayan and Mahabharat
ensured that streets wore a deserted look on Sunday mornings across
the country. Cricket was always a popular sport in the country
and this further popularized TV through 1980’s. The turning point
was the live broadcast of Benson and Hedges Cup from Australia.
In 1991 CNN started beaming the first gulf war live to Indian
homes. CNN’s 24 hour availability was a novelty in the country
dominated by Doordarshan and used to 9:00 PM evening news mostly
toeing the state line. Rough and ready entrepreneurs wired up
entire housing complexes and localities and started distributing
the signal captured by a dish antenna. The same year saw the launch
of STAR TV and in 1992 Subhash Chandra launched ZEE TV, the first
general entertainment channel exclusively targeted at the Indian
audience.Zee TV ruled the Indian cable industry till 1999.
The year 2003 saw a glimpse of the third ignition- A revamp of
the distribution infrastructure- that could revolutionize the
television viewing experience and usher the television industry
on the path of future sustainable growth. Technological advancements,
once again will be the key enabler, the one driver that will facilitate
the “how” of delivering television content efficiently and effectively.
The industry that was started in 1992 with 5 channels has grown
to 436 channels in 2009 and in 2009 itself 35 New channels have
already been launched, as compared to 65 odd new launches last
year. It simply does not look like a slowdown by any standard
for the Television Broadcasting Industry in India!!