By: Rashid Sami

It wasn’t just Amitabh Bachchan whose fate turned for the best with the launch of Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC), the overall revenue generation on starplus seemed to his the peak in the months that followed Similar programmes cropped up soon enough on satellite channels. Sawal Dus Crore Ka with Anupam Kher and Manisha Koirala and then Chappar phar kay with Govinda as host, were shows with similar formats. KBC junior and now Amitabh Sir Ki Class, were projects that soon followed that further enhanced the viewership of the original idea. On this side PTV and then ARY-Digital are said to have acquired the franchise of the show with Zia Mohyuddin and Moin Akhtar as hosts, respectively.

Kaun Banega Crorepati, based on the original show Who wants to be a millionaire, right from its first episode gained following among the Urdu/Hindi speaking viewers across the Indo-Pak region and outside. The show not only broke past business records for the Star Network, it also snatched audience from other satellite channels. This was the time whin Star with its other productions namely Saas bhee Kabhi bahu thee, Tu tu main main and Kahani ghar ghar ki, improved its viewership tremendously and became the most watched satellite channel in the region. The Thelka.com scandal and unhappy powerful Indians may account for the present state of Zee Network, forcing them to offer-for-bidding almost quarter of their shares to international buyers, but the major reason was the shifting of viewership to Star Network because of its programmes. This crunch has also hit the present advertising revenue available to the electronic media in Pakistan and India.

At a time when the Pakistani electronic media, especially the private sector is striving to improve in terms of presentation, technical facilities infra-structure and marketing skills, shift of funds to a competitor could be devastating.

Star Network, being on Asia-Star-3 transponder is offering programmes in its footprint through two different beans. These beams were separated for the Indian and Pakistani viewership for marketing purposes only At present the programming on Star Network remains the same, i.e. Indian based, and without any extra cost, they are offer different airtime costs to the Pakistani and Indian advertisers different beams. The authorities in Pakistan were aware of the marketing strategies and shows have taken steps to counter the manned takeover.

Then there is 15 percent. Then there is 15 percent GST, which has to be deposited before the 15th of every month, almost 12 to 24 weeks in advance on payments, earned through commercials.

Different satellite channels may soon follow. This practice would not only destroy the local private production sector and artists, but through these marketing strategies the Indian-based channels may soon takeover the media network of the country.

The total advertising revenue available to the electronic media is approximately 2.5 billion; around 20 percent of which is available to the Pakistani based satellite channel PTV World. It is speculated that within the last 5-6 months almost one million dollars have been transferred to the Star Network for commercial placement. Almost all our major brands have invested significantly on Star to the extent of branding Kaun Banega Crorepati with payment of 160,000 US dollars paid in advance for six months. It is interesting to note that Famillia, a family planning project, funded by a donor agency, was the main sponsor for KBC for six months while the present major sponsors are LU Biscuits. These modes of payments need to be scrutinized as avoiding proper channels may also effect the revenues to the government exchequer.

This invasion was not sudden and if there is some one to be blamed or this situation it is the authorities who are too busy in using television as a tool for their own propaganda and even there, they have done a bad job. Television to start with, should not come under the Ministry for Information. We need innovation and it should be the job of Ministry for Science and Technology to take matters in their hand.

Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) has recently issued a circular binding all cable operators to place Pakistani based channels PTV, STN, PTV-World, Indus Vision and Indus Music as the first five channels. Star Network, however continues its hold on the viewership.