BBC says media in India more developed than China

New Delhi, March 22 | Updated: Mar 23 2005, 05:30am hrs
India is seen to be a far more developed and evolved market than China, even when it comes to media. However, infrastructure remains an issue even here.

The visiting COO of BBC World Anne Barnard believes the Indian media is far more developed than China. "In India, media is part of the market economy, unlike in China," Ms Barnard told FE. This was in response to a question on how India compared with China in media and broadcasting.

Interestingly, News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch, whos currently in the country, told a news channel on Monday that China is much ahead of India, in terms of TV homes and overall infrastructure.

BBC COO Anne Barnard
News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch
India is a very significant market for BBC World in terms of advertising revenues, according to Ms Barnard, but she refused to share numbers. Ms Barnard and BBC World director of marketing Jane Gorard are in Delhi to launch a global brand campaign in India.

BBC World will expend a large part of its total campaign spend on the India market, they indicated. According to BBC World, Putting News First is the biggest brand campaign in the channels 10-year history. The campaign is based on the results of an extensive research study commissioned by the channel.

Among other things, the focus group interviewed for the campaign pointed out that BBC should continue to focus on in-depth stories and analysis. Speaking of the India market specifically, Ms Barnard said that competition for BBC World is increasing with many news and business channels being launched.

Therefore, a "health check" of the channel at this point makes sense, BBC World officials pointed out. In India, focus groups for the campaign comprised people from Bangalore and Mumbai in the age group of 25 to 40.

Even as BBC World would increase its investment in the coverage of the Asian region, including India, its not looking at launching an India-specific channel. According to Ms Barnard, "the Indian market is already well-served by the domestic channels". BBC does not want to get into that domain, she added.

Rather, BBC World would focus on "explaining the South Asian economy to other parts of the world".

On the issue of hundreds of job cuts announced recently at various divisions of BBC, Ms Barnard said, "it is meant to release money into new programming and ventures....The purpose is not to cut cost, but to re-invest."

Technology has enabled the change in the organisation, she admitted. On whether job cuts was an international trend across media, Ms Barnard said, "BBC, perhaps, has far larger staff than anywhere else."

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