A viewer who sits in front of the television having hundreds of channels to choose from. However, the viewer does not realise that the channels are not available by choice, but are forced into the television in form of bouquets. Viewers also don’t realise that they pay for many channels that they never watch. This is where the TRAI stepped in passing a regulation that made it mandatory for the broadcasters to enable consumers to be able to make a choice of which channels they wished to watch. However, despite regulations, broadcasters seem to be reluctant to do so.
Two articles, one the 9th and another on the 11th October 2019, both in the Economic Times brought forth this reluctance of broadcasters and cable operators to enable consumers to choose their desired channels freely. The number of complaints received by TRAI continue to mount. The issue is more complicated than what is evident prima facie.
Media organisations earn more revenue from advertising than from the subscribers. When broadcasters offer us a bouquet of channels, they offer similar bouquets to advertisers. A bouquet means numbers. So rather than the number of viewers of one channel, the advertisers are ensured that they get more viewers through a bouquet. Whether the consumers want to or not, they are forced to pay for all the channels in the bouquet, simply because it suits the business proposition between the broadcasters and the advertisers. Which also means that audiences are a commodity to be sold to the advertisers. If the power to choose is given to the consumers, it overturns the apple cart, causing disruption in the business. This is one of the reasons why broadcasters are loathe to give the power of choice to viewers.
The other reason is compulsion to improve programming. With the viewers exercising their right to choose it is clear that the mandate will be against all the broadcasters who have substandard programming. They know that they would have to work much harder to improve the quality of programming; they can no more force mediocre programmes and expect to get away with it. The audiences would simply reject them. So the broadcasters will have to either perform, or perish. So what makes this issue complicated? It would be a win-win situation for both, broadcasters as well as the viewers. This has everything to do with economics. The economic problem states that resources are always scarce or limited. Media Economics states that the scarcest resource for the media is manpower. Media requires trained, professional manpower to churn our quality programming. And there is scarcity of such manpower. There are several Mass media schools offering a plethora of programs. However, unlike MET Institute of Mass Media located in the heart of Mumbai they offer are more theory based rather than practical based. At MET Institute of Mass Media, the approach is hands-on practical media training, with a 360 degree curriculum, with PG Courses in Advertising, Media & Entertainment courses, Journalism courses, Public Relations courses and PG course in Digital marketing.
Media requires students who are ready to immediately start working. Like the MET Institute of Mass Media, it is now necessary for media schools to have a full fledged shooting floor and studio with a lights grid, croma screens, and an audio lab, video editing suites with the latest software. With more emphasis on practical training, MET Institute of Mass Media has been at the forefront in providing professionally trained manpower to the industry for the last 15 years. That is why MET Institute of Mass Media is one of the leading media schools in India, drawing students from all over the country.
The media and entertainment industry require more than 7 lakh trained media professionals over a period of the next 5 years. This paucity of trained manpower is another reason why broadcasters find it difficult to improve their quality of programming.
The impulsive reaction of the broadcasters and cable operators in partly justified due to this reason. However, that cannot be taken as an excuse to force mediocre programming to the viewers. The traditional broadcasting industry is already facing rough weather due to the OTT platforms. It is in the interest of the broadcasters to spruce up their act faster. Perform, or perish!