Media that made news in 2012

SMJ, Kolaveri and Firstpost: Media that made news in 2012

As we come to the last week of the year 2012, it’s time to do a wrap of the most memorable developments in media in the past year. Here’s a look

Satyamev Jayate: Without a doubt to both consumers and media watchers, Aamir’s Khan’s small-screen debut, Satyamev Jayate, was the biggest. I watched the entire first episode, ad breaks, warts and all, and wrote these words within 30 minutes of the program ending.

“In a nutshell, here’s the verdict: Satyamev Jayate works. If the shroud of secrecy on the content of the programme intrigued viewers to want to tune in, the show, once we’ve seen it, involves us enough to want to tune in again.
What’s the show about? It’s clear, now, that Satyamev Jayate will highlight problems in India that we are all familiar with. The construct will be along these lines: a) definition of a problem b) demonstration of the impact of the problem c) the reaction of the authorities to dealing with the problem d) Aamir’s suggested action e) call for viewers’ involvement and support.” More on this article can be read here.

In three months, as the 13 week run of the show ended, my initial assessment was proven to be way off the mark. “As Satyamev Jayate went out with a whimper with the last episode, We the People, it’s an appropriate time to take stock of the programme. For a show that promised to bring out the truth and to ensure truth prevailed, it’s the ultimate underachiever. Small droplets of truth shone through, but the droplets never threatened to become a fall, let alone a downpour. It’s because TV , and not truth, prevailed.” A detailed analysis is here.

STAR BCCI cricket rights:….Sticking to TV, the other stand-out development was the Rs 3850 crore paid by STAR to BCCI for the rights to cricket. “Is STAR’s punt a misplaced one?,” we had asked in Firspost.
“STAR’s taken a brave, considered bet. Indeed, Multiscreen Media (MSM), who bid marginally less than STAR did (Rs 3,700 crore vis–vis STAR’s Rs 3,851 crore) could be kicking themselves for having missed out by just Rs 150 crores – that’s about Rs 1.5 crore per match. The bedrock of STAR’s bet (and indeed, MSM’s) is the change in the revenue pie for television in India thanks to the TRAI recommendations on digitization,” the article had continued.

Last week, we found ourselves to be almost prescient. “According to a report in The Times of India, ESPN HD and Star Cricket HD have hiked their monthly subscription charges on the eve of the India-Pakistan series from Rs 40 to Rs 142 and Rs 120 respectively,” we reported. “The rate hike is the first demonstration by STAR that it will attempt to rely less on advertisers and more on subscribers for their revenues – especially for premium, original, exclusive content,” we added.

Premium premier for Kamal Hassan: Filmstar Kamal Hassan beat STAR to it when it came to attempting to leverage the power of digital. “Kamal Hassan took a decision to release his upcoming film,Vishwaroopam, on DTH (direct-to-home) platforms eight hours prior to its release in theatres. In fact, Hassan is charging a whopping price of Rs 1,000 on the one-time screening that will be available on DTH networks. What will be interesting to watch is if viewers will barter the theatre experience for the drawing room sit-back. Even if tickets for three often add up to Rs 1,000, one is willing to pay for the big screen and not a small TV experience. The large flat-screen that, perhaps,

Kamal is targeting is a luxury that few homes in India enjoy,” Firstpost had reported when Kamal Hassan made the announcement.

Zee-Jindal: The stinger stung: Still on TV, we saw, for the first time, the reverse sting, where a news TV channel was sting by an apparent intended victim, when Naveen Jindal alleged that Zee TV officials were demanding bribes for positive stories – and claims that the entire conversations were captured on video. “If Zee can be stung – as they seem to have been – it’s time for journalists to beware. Journalists will, henceforth, need to be acutely aware of their surroundings, have to have supreme confidence that there is no danger of their becoming victims of stings by people they are talking to or investigating. In a way, the Jindal sting will make Justice Katju a happy man. Willy-nilly, this incident helps the Press Council of India, insofar that it is a check on the possibility of journalists blackmailing citizens or companies into parting with cash or favours in exchange for damaging news being suppressed,” we had saidat that time.

The Hindu-Times of India: The meek hit back: Who would have thought it – The Hindu playing eyeball to eyeball with The Times of India – and The Times of India blinks? “Much has been written – and, doubtless, much more will be written, about the new campaign for The Hindu, which takes The Times of India head on.

The overriding sentiment is captured by the editor of The Mint, R Sukumar, who editorialised, “One reason why I like the ads (and I will be honest about this) is editorial hubris. I see The Hindu as a paper that, like Mint, is fighting the good fight. ”

Another is the aggression on display. For too long, the Mahavishnu of Mount Road has played safe and it is good to see….the paper becoming aggressive about what it does and, more tellingly, what it thinks of The Times of India’s style of journalism,” we had reported in Firstpost.
A month ago, The Hindu moved on, away from The Times of India. “Behave yourself, India. The youth are watching,” says a in a new commercial. Take a look at the commercial here. What is The Hindu trying to say in this commercial – and to whom? Are they warning politicians that this is the state that they have reduced the parliament to, that what we see in the TVC is what India’s youth believe ‘proper parliamentary behaviour’ really is? After all, that is what they see on TV if they had watched clips of parliament in session during the past year or two. Or is The Hindu trying to say that the paper is watching them, on behalf of the youth of the country – and they will report on, analyse and criticise such behaviour?

Whatever the objectives of the pieces of communications, The Hindu has made one strong statement – that it is no longer meek – and is willing to put up a fight.

Bengali newspaper wars. It’s time. The story is repeated in Kolkata, where Bennett, Coleman and Company, publishers of The Times of India, decided to launch a Bengali paper, challenging the domination of Ananda Bazar Patrika. “Now it’s official. It’s war. From the moment there were rumours that Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited (BCCL), the publishers of The Times of India, were planning to launch a Bengali daily, there were counter rumours that ABP Limited, the publishers of Ananda Bazar Patrika and The Telegraph, would launch a second Bengali newspaper, a tabloid, to use as a flanking title.”

ABP got….off the blocks first, launching Ebela, (translating loosely to ‘this time’ or ‘now’), a tabloid, in mid-September. The paper is not only physically a tabloid, but is tabloid-esque content wise. Firstpost reviewed the paper a few days after it launched. Now BCCL has thrown its hat into the ring, launching a print and TV campaign for their offering – Ei Shomoy (which translates, loosely, to the same as Ebela would: ‘this time’ or ‘now’),” we had reported.

The war is on, it’s fierce, and it’ll be some time before we know who wins and who loses.

NDTV-TAM: Who will judge the judge? “There have been, over the years, a number of instances when broadcasters have been unhappy with the TAM ratings. TAM ratings, to the uninitiated, are the ratings which measure television audiences in India. There have been rumours of broadcasters being able to ‘fix’ the ratings, with the help of corrupt TAM executives. NDTV has filed a suit against The Nielsen Company and other defendants in the US, under New York State laws. According to the suit, the channel had been discussing their unhappiness with various aspects of the viewership data, continuously from 2004 to 2012. Obviously, they do not have any faith that the situation will change, leading to the filing of the suit,” we reported.

As this is written, the merits of the case are scheduled to be heard in February 2013. We’ll wait and watch. Wait impatiently and watch very, very closely.

Why this Kolaveri over Kolaveri? Simply because it’s got – hold your breath – 65 million views on Youtube as this piece is being written. Still haven’t watched it? Watch it here.

Why is this in media? Because it demonstrates the power of Youtube…..

No media cost, and 65 million people around the world have seen it. What would that audience have cost if they had to be bought on TV channels? Hmmm.

Firstpost is about the future. Finally, we come to ourselves. This was a big year for Firstpost – our first full year as India’s first, largest and most influential digital newspaper. “The news has moved beyond a static newspaper. The idea was to make readers entirely rethink their view of news as-it-happens. Therefore the lines around reading news a day late.” More on the campaign we created to put this point across (and a chance to view the campaign) here.

So why am I plugging Firstpost in this review? It’s because it’s no plug. We’re consistently in the top 5 most influential brands on social media as measure by Pinstorm, currently at #3.

Still not convinced of the need for me to write about Firstpost? Here are the ComScore stats for November 2012:

Total Unique Visitors: 5.398 million
Total Visits: 9.445 million
Total time spent: 27 million minutes
Total Page views: 18 million

Now, that’s a digital newspaper.

So what do we look forward to in 2013? That’s another story – and you will see this in the next few days.

Best Regards,
Richa Seth

PR Consultant
Mob: 9930143531
Email id:

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Public Relations: A Career Choice

I was thinking about issues to write in PR education when this question struck me “How do people make the choice of pursuing a career in public relations?” Is it accidental or a well thought off option? If it is accidental then how was the experience of entering this profession? If it is by choice, do you regret it? Or you are happy and comfortable in this profession and would love to grow in this job.

These questions popped into my head, as this is something I ask a candidate planning to join this course. Sometimes I have been told by these candidates that we have had public relations as a subject and advertising as a specialisation while pursuing their graduation, so I would like to do this course. Or there will be some working professionals saying that it helps in promotion so they would like to do this course. Or yet others, simply decided to plunge into a new field. Like I have had candidates, who have done a graduation in Economics and who would like to join Public Relations at the Master level.

So these choices are tough. Either if you have simply come to into this profession either with a journalist, marketing, administration background without any academic knowledge in this subject or you are a student with or without previous knowledge of this subject in his/her graduation or post-graduation tenure.

But I am sure all of you would agree this is one subject which is still gaining recognition, at least in India, and it is definitely not something you dreamt of becoming, when you were a child. Cannot blame you, you didn’t know, that it existed or what it was.

So I am sure whatever the reason of the plunge into this profession it would be great to share your experience in this field whether as a student or as a practitioner as to how has your journey has been? Would you like to add your bit to make this journey for you and for others a better one? So that hopefully a child tomorrow may dream of becoming a public relations practitioner, the way h/she dreams of being in other professions.

Would love to know your views.

Discussion : Reputation Management

Dear All,

Would like to encourage everyone on the forum to initiate sharing interesting and insightful day-to-day happenings impacting a company’s reputation which will help the fraternity learn and imbibe tricks of the trade.

The recent DLF Realty fiasco involving Robert Vadra nexus and the CCI penalty for unfair trade practices has made me curious to know the strategy and tactics being adopted by the PR consultancy to manage this huge crisis. And what can be done to manage the company’s reputation and retain customer trust.

Could we together share some tips on what strategy and tactics can be undertaken to curb this crisis?

Would be great if all of us can share our learning’s and make this an interesting discussion.



Best Regards,
Richa Seth

PR Consultant
Mob: 9930143531
Email id:

Twitter | Linkedin


Industry Update : Fleishman-​Hillard appoints regional lead for digital integratio​n

SINGAPORE – Fleishman-Hillard has appointed Don Anderson, former head of integrated ad sales for ESPN Star Sports, as senior vice-president and head of strategic digital integration for Asia-Pacific.
Anderson will be based in Singapore, reporting to Lynne Anne Davis, Fleishman-Hillard Asia-Pacific president.
Anderson told Campaign Asia-Pacific that he will focus on growing the agency’s internal digital capabilities as well as working with clients. He will lead strategic engagements “across multiple work streams and business lines, with a focus on solutions with the power to shift market dynamics, transform client business and generate significant long-term value,” according to the company.
Anderson will work closely with Jon Chin, who is responsible for driving social media capabilities and services across Southeast Asia; Riitu Chugh, head of digital in India; and James Hacking, who heads BlueCurrent Hong Kong.
According to FH, Anderson’s role is slightly different from that of Napoleon Biggs, who left his post as senior vice-president, digital integration recently to join Hong Kong-based digital outfit Gravitas.
Anderson has two decades of media and digital experience, including 12 years in Asia. At ESPN Star Sports, he was responsible for driving integrated programmes across ESPN’s online, mobile, social and broadband network platforms. Prior to that, he led Turner Entertainment Networks Asia’s online ad sales and games business, directed sales and marketing for CNN’s online travel property CNNGo and managed online marketing and communications for the South China Morning Post.
“Our community of digital experts will expand rapidly as we deepen our integrated communications and full-service digital and global social services,” said Davis. “As we advance our insights and strategy capabilities, our social engagement, digital marketing, mobile and creative specialties will continue their accelerated growth in the region.”,fleishman-hillard-appoints-regional-lead-for-digital-integration.aspx?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

Media Consumptio​n On Internet Continues To Grow says IRS report Q2 2012

IRS Q2 2012: Media Consumption On Internet Continues To Grow

According to Indian Readership Survey (IRS), a survey conducted by Hansa Research for Media Research Users Council (MRUC), the media consumption on the Internet platform in India has touched 3.99 crore, up from 3.75 crore in the previous quarter.The Internet segment has recorded a 34.8% CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) in usage for the last three quarters i.e. during Q4 2011-Q2 2012, making it the fast growing media platform in the country, although it should be noted that other media platforms have a significantly higher user base than Internet. Note that there is no mention of the survey methodology for the Internet domain or any detailed information on Internet segment in the report.

Media Consumption Across Other Platforms: The media consumption on the Cable & Satellite platform stood at 48.86 crore, up from 47.51 crore in the previous quarter, and recording a 11.7% CAGR during the period Q3 2011- Q1 2012, while the media consumption on the radio platform stood at 15.81 crore, up from 15.49 crore in the previous quarter and a 1.9% CAGR during the period Q3 2011- Q1 2012.

The media consumption through the print platform stood at 35.20 crore, marginally down from 35.21 crore in the previous quarter but a 0.9% CAGR during the period Q3 2011- Q1 2012, while the media consumption on the television platform stood at 56.34 crore, up from 55.46 crore in the previous quarter and a 5% CAGR during the period Q3 2011- Q1 2012.

The media consumption on the cinema platform stood at 7.92 crore, up from 7.52 crore in the previous quarter and a 9.4% CAGR during the period Q3 2011- Q1 2012 and the total media consumption stood at 64.70 crore up from 64.04 crore in the previous quarter and a 3.4% CAGR during the period Q3 2011-Q1 2012.

Top Publications: While there is no mention of the top Internet publications in the country, Dainik Jagran was the top print publication for the quarter with readership of 1.64 crore, followed by Dainik Bhaskar with readership of 1.44 crore, and Hindustan with readership of 1.22 crore.

Other publications in the list include Malayala Manorama (97.1 lakh readership), Amar Ujala (86.1 lakh readership), The Times Of India (76.4 lakh readership), Lokmat (75.1 lakh readership), Daily Thanthi (74.3 lakh readership), Rajasthan Patrika (67.6 lakh readership) and Mathrubhumi (64.9 lakh readership).

Maturing Social Networks Call In PR Support To Boost Mass Appeal

Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Last year, Twitter decided that it needed consumer marketing support and hired a PR agency. The move came as a surprise, because in registering 500 million users it might have appeared that Twitter was not exactly struggling to attract attention.

Yet Twitter is just the most visible example of a trend that has taken hold across the digital spectrum. In recent months LinkedIn and Foursquare have also called in new consumer PR counsel, joining other emerging technology players such as Groupon and Airbnb, which have also established agency relationships.

These moves, say industry observers, reflect how companies like Twitter and LinkedIn are attempting to make their mark on mainstream culture. Garnering tech plaudits, after all, has become relatively easy; the bigger challenge comes in explaining exactly why your service is so important to Main Street moms, rather than Silicon Valley wags.

To do that, companies are hiring firms with strong consumer marketing credentials. Twitter appointed Edelman, albeit for a short-lived stint that did not exactly end as anticipated. LinkedIn and Foursquare, both of which declined to comment on this analysis, recently selected New York firms Maloney & Fox and M Booth, respectively.

“Many brands may not understand how to use consumer-focused PR to their advantage,” says M Booth CEO Margi Booth, whose firm also works for OpenTable and

There is something ironic about sophisticated social media players turning to classic PR advice. “They still need to be in the New York Times,” points out Edelman digital MD Marshall Manson. “If you’re an up and coming social network, you don’t need a tremendous amount of help building a community. What you need help with is how do we get on USA Today, or how do we get on Oprah. It’s classic PR.”

Foursquare, for example, recently used a focused PR blitz to showcase its integration with American Express. It is “lifestyle” efforts like these, says M Booth VP Brad Laney, that demonstrate the type of campaigns which companies in this sector should be creating, rather than focusing too narrowly on product publicity.

“There is a recognition that they can benefit from connecting with their consumers in this way and move the brand more mainstream,” says Laney. “It is about helping them showcase the role the brand plays in the everyday lives of consumers.”

Each of these companies, unsurprisingly, has differing PR needs. One thing that binds them, though, is that perennial public relations challenge: Proving their worth to individual users in an increasingly cluttered marketplace.

Some see this as a quintessential engagement issue, bearing in mind the spectre of Facebook, which hangs heavy over the entire sector. Facebook has gazillions of users, but its ability to make people use the site – and its many services – for long hours is one factor that separates it from the pack. One tech PR specialist that the Holmes Report spoke to for this story noted that newer social networks are simply trying to emulate Facebook’s success in this regard.

Others are less convinced by this argument. “They all think they are trying to do what Facebook has done,” says one agency source with numerous clients in the sector, who instead frames the issue as one of “reconsideration”. Sites like Twitter and LinkedIn boast hundreds of millions of members; the difficulty lies in persuading many of these people to reappraise their largely indifferent relationships with them.

At Twitter, for example, a crucial objective of its PR outreach was to make it more relevant to individuals. The brand has wider awareness than most social networks, but many users – say observers – still struggle to understand the exact benefits it might bring them. A “vertical marketing” strategy becomes particularly important here, as a way of connecting with specific interests such as sports, music or food.

“Once people have given you a try, how do you get them to come back?” asks Manson. “The next move is to get people excited about the platform again.”

Making that case to the clients in question, say some observers, is not always straightforward. “Sometimes whey they ask for consumer PR, they are really thinking about broader tech or corporate,” points out the agency source. “Part of this is education about what is the most effective way to talk to consumer media. It‘s not like a tech publication where there is a built-in interest in covering them.”

That factor cuts both ways, given that mainstream consumer titles are often less tech-savvy than you might anticipate. “It’s not as easy as calling up and pitching a Dyson vacuum story, or a story about mascara,” notes the agency source. “It takes some time.”

Time is not something that all of these companies have a surplus of. Not all of them have fully-formed business models, and, whether publicly- or privately-owned, they all have investors that expect increasing levels of growth. “You’re going to have to give new or refreshed use cases or brand propositions to users if they are going to give you a second look,” points out Manson. “The PR/marketing push is as much about satisfying advertising as about gaining users.”

Not that, by all accounts, there is that much money in these programmes for established consumer PR firms. “Do they invest enough?” asks the agency source. “No, but they will. A lot of firms are willing to take them on because they are the prestige brands of the moment. That will change – it will have to as they figure out their marketing strategy.”

That strategy will also, increasingly, need to be about more than just publicity. The last two weeks have seen concerns surge over Google’s new privacy policy, indicating areas where people still require considerable reassurance. “Trust and safety are big issues, and you’re already seeing that with Google and Facebook,” says Laney. “They need to communicate proactively and underscore the measures in place that safeguard consumers while reminding them of all the positive attributes that attracted them in the first place.”


Are the new T&C of the Service Tax not an issue for the PR Industry


I want to check something with the forum members.

I am sure all of you are aware of the rules that have changed in the
service taxes for the service industry. (For those of you who don’t
know about the issue please read :

Link : ) ;

I want to know from the forum members how they are dealing with this
issue as the payment for most (99.9%) of the clients is a standard of
30 working days and there is even a bigger chaos on project 50%
payments. Earlier one had to pay the tax after the payment has been
cleared by the client. Now according to the new rule that was enforced
from 1 July 2011, you need to pay the service tax within 30 days after
you raise the invoice or the 5th of the month, whichever is first,
irrespective of the payments status from the client.

According to me, this rule is highly detrimental to the growth of our
industry . On one end the client expectations are rising everyday and
the payments are delayed by a standard couple of weeks and on the
other end the vendors will now not work with you till you pay them in
advance. To top it off you might just end up taking loans to pay just
the service taxes !!!! .

While the outdoor and advertising industry has gathered arms and
gotten together to write to the relevant authorities and have already
begun the process of lobbying for a change. (Read today’s ET for more
on the service tax rollout progress and please note that we are not
the ‘essential’ services) I think it is high time that we from the ‘PR
Industry’ as a whole take up the initiative to do so too for everyone
in the industry.

I do not have the know-how to take this up but I am sure we have
enough people on this forum who would have the relevant expertise and
know how to give some direction to this. I am willing to be a part of
this or take up this initiative at best.

Any advice from the forum members on how to go about this or do we
even need to take this up ? Is there a loophole that can be explored
in the clauses that will help circumvent the ridiculous terms and
conditions of this tax ?


Public Relations Division


By Abhijit Sengupta, CEO of Outdoor Adevrtising Professionals (I) Pvt.
Ltd.) & Touchpoint

Except for death and taxes nothing is certain. We all have heard it
several times isn’t it? When we look at the current changes in Point
of Taxation (POT) rules with respect to SERVICE TAX, we realise that
though the taxes (we are talking about service tax in particular)
certain the incidence of tax and its administration could keep
changing time and again. When it happens we keep complaining,
shouting, protesting and so on. And later on we realise that the best
thing would be to adapt and start following it. I am sure something
similar would happen in case of leapfrog changes in POT that would
come in effect from 1st July 2011.Without getting technical aspects of
those changes let us understand what has changed specifically for
media and advertising companies.

Till 30th June 2011 whatever invoice service provider raises, she has
to pay service tax thereon only once that amount is being collected
from the customer. From 1st July the tax has to be charged while
raising the invoice as usual and it has to be deposited to the
treasury on or before 5th of the subsequent month, irrespective of the
collection, In case, you operate in monopoly market and are privileged
to be able to collect the same in advance or in less than 30 days, you
need to pay tax element on or before 5th of the subsequent month.
The immediate reaction of many people has been, “oh in that case i
would raise my invoice only just before the collection and manage my
cash-flow.” People in finance ministry are very smart enough to take
care of the situation. The rules say that the invoice has to be raised
by service provider within 14 days from the “completion of the
“The completion of service” has to be a part of written contract and
cannot be left to the imagination of the service tax auditors. There
task is not to “imagine” anything but to increase revenue for the
What if any service provider fails to collect? In other words after
the payment of service tax on the invoice if the same turns bad, then
there no recourse for the same. The service tax paid on subsequent bad
debts is a cost any service provider has to bare.
What are the implications for outdoor advertising agencies in

Average collection period for any outdoor advertising agency is in the
range of 70 to 170 days. On a monthly billing you need to pay the
service tax within 5 days from the end of the month. For every agency
managing this cash-flow would be a nightmare. Some of us will have to
borrow only to pay the tax, which means there cost implications as
well by way of cost of funds.
The documentation with respect to the contractual obligations ahs to
be water tight to the extent possible and there should be as less grey
area as possible, to be left for the interpretation of the service tax
auditors. “Completion of the service” would give rise to all kinds of
disputes and litigations with the department.
The above measures are within the purview of the agencies and they
would be internal controls. The following should be done by forming
industry association:

Media owners have become aggressive and they have already decided what
they want and what they would do for the same. Agencies’ association
has to deal with it work towards preserving their own interests.
While competing within they need to define basic hygiene factors and
stick to them. For example
Today there are agencies that go out and get the business at ZERO
agency commission and on top of it they offer certain percentage of
saving in media buying to that customer (sic!).
Some agencies while pitching for business offer crazy collection
terms to the clients.
If such practices continue unabated they would turn out to be
destructive for the entire business as a whole.

Agencies association needs to create a mechanism to define aspects as
to what constitutes the “service” and what would amount to the
“completion of the service” to avoid the potential are of litigation.
Even after doing that when dispute arises with the department it
should be represented and dealt with at the association level.
While an individual agency will have no bargaining power with the
department.  Senior officers in the department are instructed to lend
an ear to trade associations and forward their grievances to the CBEC
and finance ministry for resolution.
The moment the new Service Tax rules were brought in, the first two
steps OAP took was first to write to the industry body to come
together to understand the implications. The second step was to
immediately realign and partly redesign our internal systems and
processes to narrow gaps on billing, documentation and collection. Our
ISO QMS was already in place. We are extending this QMS system with
new provisions that would facilitate speed. We have taken this
unfortunate ordeal as an excuse and also an opportunity towards
meeting OTP (On Time Performance) and top quality QMS.
“We would love to see our competitors as well adopting to this system
since it would help the entire industry to stay afloat, survive the
onslaught and thrive in times to come.”