Chennai: Sanjay Banerjee – National Head, Raj TV Network Ltd
Sanjay Banerjee National Head – Sales & Marketing, Raj TV Network, took charge of this new role from January 5, 2011.
Banerjee has been with the group since December 2006 as Associate Vice-President for the North and East Indian markets, where his responsibilities included budgeting revenue targets, strategic tie-ups, content integration and revenue generation.
Banerjee had started his career at Indian Express in 1991 and has over 18 years’ experience, of which he has spent 10 years working in the television media industry. He began his television career in 2000 with Jain TV as Manager – Sales, and later was promoted as General Manager. Post that, he moved to CVO as General Manager, Advertising.
tvnews4u.com Founder and Director Vijay Vishwanath caught up with Sanjay Banerjee in an exclusive chat on his views and experience:
Q. You have been in Raj TV for seven years. Could you tell us the core challenge that you face as on date?
A: It’s been a long, roller coaster ride in the last seven years, during which I faced numerous challenges on various fronts and have been able to establish a growth path YOY for the Network. The overall experience in the south market has been a very different one from the North. This market (especially TN) does not operate on the Media basics of “CONTENT IS KING”. Rather, it has its own rule of “Distribution is King” which unfortunately can be controlled and manipulated easily. This makes it more of a distribution-controlled market than a content-driven one. This is diametrically opposite to the other markets where Content is still King. That’s the reason why average content is also delivering good ratings as the viewer has limited choice and is forced to view only selected channels.
Q. Can you quantify the Retail Market share of Raj TV compared to Vijay, Zee, Polimer etc…
A: As per my understanding, the retail Market would be to the tune of 150 – 160 crore per annum. Sun, being the largest player, takes the maximum pie of the cake — around 70 crore. Vijay should be around 60. Raj TV and Zee Tamizh should be an average 10-12 Cr. Polimer around 4-5 Cr. The rest is shared by smaller channels.
Q. Currently many of the channels’ FPCs showcase dubbed content. What in your opinion is the future of dubbing content?
A: There is a market for dubbed serials provided there is no overdose, as a lot of Tamil-speaking population do still like to watch dubbed content, may be for the grandeur of the sets or the storyline not typically the same as original Tamil content. What the viewer here gets is only stereotyped family melodrama for ages, whereas the dubbed content has a lot of fanfare / different storyline / production quality/ fashion etc etc which entices the viewer to hang on to it. But dubbed content is an interim strategy adopted by any network. Original remains original. I feel instead of creating dubbed content, broadcasters in the South should pick up ideas from bigger platforms and convert them into original format in TN.
Q. Honestly, what is the reaction of retail advertisers to the dubbed content? Do you find it difficult to get a better price for dubbed content despite delivery of numbers?
A: There isn’t much of an apprehension from retail advertisers on dubbed content and they still view it as a regular, original serial. Dubbed serials do have their own recall value as well. We are able to command a reasonable pricing and hike in our existing advertisement rates on our dubbed content. Sindhu Bhairavi and Mann Vasanai have been our top-rated serials where the yield is increasing steadily in retail deals and it gives us more confidence, as a broadcaster, in dubbed content.
Q. Recently, you launched a talent hunt for Super Dancers. How do you rate this programme as compared to your competitive channels?
A: Super Dancers is a programme to promote Group dancing which is currently a rage in the country. The quality of the content is at par with any of the National GECs and we are already getting some very good reviews from the viewers and the Press. The programme has started on a good note with decent rating of opening episode and we expect this trend to continue. As I said earlier, original content with the local flavour and international quality will always have a more lasting impact than dubbed content.
Q. A few more GECs are coming up in the Southern market in the near future. What are your views on this development. Do you feel there is enough space for new players?
A: One can’t be judgmental in this case. There is always a scope for new channels provided they come up with good business plans and strong content for the audience. Unfortunately in TN, some channels have sprouted without any focus. I won’t like to name any of them but these small networks have not done any good to the content / audience. Rather they have contributed to fragmenting the business further and creating more problems for established networks. I am not averse to new players but they should be worth their salt.
Q. What are the other upcoming shows on your channel?
A: A lot is on the anvil but I would like to divulge it at an appropriate time. Will keep you posted.
Q. What are your plans on movie acquisition? Any plans to buy big star movies?
A: The Network is today riding with the largest bank of movies than any other network in TN, but of course many are old movies. We haven’t acquired movies for some time now. Very recently we have bought a few low-budget movies. There are big plans to make our movie library the biggest and the best one in times to come as was the situation a few years ago.
Q. TRAI had announced the 12-minute ad cap. The decision on implementation has been deferred. Your comment on this?
A: There is a huge misnomer in the market about this whole TRAI issue. Let me unfold the truth. This ad cap always existed but was tweaked in the broadcasters favour as the line mentioned in the gazette was 14+2 per hour. Now they have put a spanner “by the clock hour” which has changed the rules completely. It’s a misconception among the advertising agencies and advertisers that it has been deferred; it is actually deferred for only a few top GECs who were anyway self-regulating to the 16 minute norm as most of their time bands performed in TAM numbers. In fact, it’s a bigger problem for the smaller channels who were carrying more than 20 minutes and now have to generate enough revenue from a lower ad cap.
Q. There is considerable debate about the TAM data. What are your views on this issue?
A: Given the only measuring tool in the market, one can’t do much about it but to flow with it. A lot of speculation is there but there is no conclusive, authentic data to raise any suspicion. But at times it seems a little tilted which one has to take with a pinch of salt. Now that BARC is already on its way, I am sure there will be healthy competition which will benefit both the research agencies and the consumers as well since more authentic data would be available.
Q. How is the festival season looking like for Raj TV?
A: Well, we at RAJ TV are very upbeat as our numbers have consolidated in the last few weeks. We are planning a huge event with Mr.llayaraja around Diwali. As already said earlier, we are also looking at strengthening our movie library as well as our regular serials/format shows. We are looking forward to a huge jump in our bottom lines this festival season.