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Regional channels look to rake in moolah from Bihar elections

MUMBAI: The regional television
channels in Bihar will stand to gain
more than the national news
broadcasters as the state goes to
polls next month.
In fact, the regional television
channels in Bihar are eyeing strong ad
revenue growth due to political ads
and increase in corporate and retail
Even though print has an upper hand
over television, the regional TV
channels are expecting big gains both
in viewership and in ad revenue from
the election.
Being localised, print media stands to
gain the most from the state
elections. They are followed by the
regional channels, while the national
channels, who are equally focusing on
the elections due to their national
importance, do not stand to gain much
particularly from political advertising.
Zee Media Corporation Ltd (ZMCL) ad
sales head Manish Seth feels that
advertising is going to go up for
regional television, albeit on a lower
base as the ad market is very small.
“We are looking at three categories in
a big way—corporate, retail and
political. Political ad revenue can help
in driving the overall topline.
Corporates are also looking at the
Bihar market. People are getting into
Bihar market and testing waters
there now,” Seth said.
The national channels will gain more
from corporate advertising while the
regional channels will gain from
political advertising. The company is
doing cross selling between Zee News
and Zee Purvaiya for the assembly
“When it comes to revenues, obviously
bigger channels will gain more because
corporates are looking at eyeballs.
For Bihar election, viewership is
going to come from Delhi, Mumbai and
UP also. This is going to drive
corporate revenues throughout the
country and political revenue will be
skewed towards Bihar channels and to
some extent national channels,” he
However, due to its vast reach, print
media will eat into a major chunk of
the ad revenue pie during the
election. “Electricity being a problem,
television is still not a very big
medium in Bihar. TV viewership is not
very high as electricity is not there
most of the time. Print will gain more
traction there,” he pointed out.
The key players in the Bihar TV
market are Big Magic Ganga, Mahuaa
TV, and Anjan TV in the general
entertainment space, and ETV Bihar/
Jharkhand, Sadhna Bihar/Jharkhand,
Maurya TV (Zee Purvaiya), and Sahara
Bihar/Jharkhand in news space.
Will the leading national news
channels gain? ABP News CEO Ashok
Venkatramani does not believe that
national news channels will gain in a
major way. “I don’t see political
parties spending big money on national
channels. They might spend money on
local print and there are a couple of
regional channels catering only to
Bihar, but I don’t see anybody
spending money on our channel,” he
“There will definitely be some
increase as in any election there is a
heightened level of spending as people
routinely go and cover the event. But
I don’t see any significant revenue
jump. Also, there are not many Bihar-
centric industries which would invest
much,” he added.
India TV executive president of sales
Sudipto Chowdhuri agrees that Bihar
elections will not be a big revenue
driver for the bigger national players.
“There will be some revenue growth,
but it will not be great. Effective
rates will go up on polling and
counting dates. For us national
broadcasters, it will be a topping on
the pizza and not the pizza itself.
Local news channels in that market
will be bigger beneficiaries,” he said.
According to a senior Network18
executive, though Bihar is not a very
big market, regional channels can
expect some spike in revenue from the
“National channels are not likely to
get too much. Regional channels will
get some funds but nothing has
started yet so it is very difficult to
say. Political ads come two weeks
before the election. Every channel
irrespective of their size tends to get
something from the elections. Bihar
is a relatively small market,” the
executive said on condition of
FM radio will also play a role, though
there are not many broadcasters. OOH
will get energised.
What about regional GECs? Reliance
Broadcast Network Ltd (RBNL) COO
Ashwin Padmanabhan expects political
parties to spend big in reaching out to
people during the Bihar elections. The
company, which owns and operates
regional GEC Big Magic, is in talks
with political parties.
“Big Magic Ganga, which has the
largest reach in the state, becomes
an extremely important vehicle for
election promotions. Media in Bihar is
underserved. There is only one private
FM in Patna, rest are all AIR, while
OOH is too small. Political parties will
go for reach and we are witnessing
growth in reach on a week-on-week
basis,” he asserted.
He also noted that in previous
elections, the campaigns used to run
However, it will be a different case
altogether in Bihar’s case. “Still
going by earlier benchmark where
political parties take 70–150 spots a
day, we are hopeful that this time
also it will surely be not below 100
spots,” he added.
Padmanabhan also reckons that the
national news channels might attract
corporate advertisers for their
special programming for the elections
but these channels will not gain much
from political advertising.
(With inputs from Gaurav Laghate)

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