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Media & Entertainment in East India - Bengal

A vibrant way forward


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The media industry in West Bengal in line with the developments across the country, is witnessing rapid evolution across the ecosystem. The shift from analog medium to digital medium is accelerating, and the trend is visible throughout the value chain—from content production to content consumption. This expected to be further helped along by the explosion of new devices, advent of faster and better delivery channels and digitization of content, which is bound to influence the way people consume media. Players across the industry and throughout the value chain are taking cognizance of this shift and are evolving and adapting to this disruption.

The distinct preferences of the people in West Bengal lend an inimitable characteristic to the media and entertainment industry in the state. Throughout history, Bengal has significantly contributed to all periods of traditional and modern Indian society. It boasts of a rich literary heritage with stalwarts like Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, Rabindranath Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Sharat Chandra Chattopadhyay and Sunil Gangopadhay. West Bengal was also the place where the very first newspaper in India was published- the Bengal Gazette in 1780. The cinema of West Bengal has also seen giants like film directors like the late Satyajit Ray, an Academy Honorary Award winner, and the recipient of India’s greatest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna, and Mrinal Sen, who is the recipient of the French distinction of Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters. Kolkata had a radio station way back in 1920s.

Over the last few years, Bengali cinema has been on the comeback path and produced commercially successful films adapted from its literary heritage. The Bengal film industry has seen an investment of almost INR 150 crores last year. To maximize its potential and return on investments, the industry will have to undertake a methodical and nose-to-the-ground research about current audience tastes, which may have changed due to exposure to other global media. The industry would closely track not only the evolution of new content delivery platforms and digital rights management, but also tackle piracy and poor condition of exhibition infrastructure, while maintaining a focus on original content. If these challenges are appropriately met, the Bengali film industry can look forward to regaining the illustrious position it once held.

While there has been some scaling back in the Bengali television industry in the last year, it still enjoys advertisement revenues of approximately INR 780 crores annually. This is expected to grow at a CAGR of ~25% going forward, with possible launch of niche channels encouraged by digitization. The General Entertainment channels dominate viewership and the industry is exploring the untapped and lucrative potential of niche channels and overseas markets.

In West Bengal, the print industry is estimated to be INR 980 crores. It is expected to grow at a CAGR of ~10% to reach over INR 1400 crores by 2016. Along with maintaining the focus on increasing digital circulation, the Bengali publishing will also be looking to increasing penetration in Tier 2 and 3 cities to attract more advertising revenues, which is a primary revenue source for the print industry. It will also have to look at monetizing strategies targeting the Bengali global diaspora through new media. It will be interesting to see how the players take initiatives to retain the Bengali print industry’s stronghold position in the Indian print landscape.