How to press the right button so you take care of the sensitivity and the Indian sentiment at the same time?
In conversation with Amitabh Srivastava - Director I-Media International
The Radio Man of India
I call him the Radio Man of India: Amitabh Srivastava. And not just radio, Amitabh has worked with many media forms using different kinds of technology. A tall, charismatic man, who literally and figuratively stands out in the crowd. He headed BBC and Walt Disney in distribution and marketing in South Asia. Besides technical work, he also headed Aajtak during its launch in India's. As a radio pioneer, he set up Radio Netherlands Worldwide in India and collaborated intensively with All India Radio to create a solid foundation. He says, 'Innovation is the key. Don't just do the job, try to figure out where you want to stand apart from'. Till date he is the South Asia manager for the Association for International Broadcasting and continues to be in charge of his own company I-Media International responsible for delivering solutions to help foreign media to set up their base in India and South Asia. Quite impressive, isn't it?
Think globally, act locally
His motto is 'Think globally, act locally'. I know from my own experience that this is easier said than done. The challenge lies in understanding both the global and local context and trying to see where the magic can happen somewhere half way. One needs to be the perfect bridge and translator to be able to tap into local market opportunities with often global products. 'It requires patience and time in order to let the potential target group mature and understand the new product', says Amitabh. 'My vision is to follow trends in the West and discover potential market opportunities in India and South Asia. Even though India is a relatively slow market, I know where to progress which only comes from many years of experience in both the West and India. A second important point to keep in mind is that Indians are price sensitive therefore how to press the right button so you take care of the sensitivity and the Indian sentiment at the same time'.
Having lived so many different lives in the world of media, Amitabh is currently witness to a whirlwind of global change. Change on a broader level called media convergence in which media like radio and television move to digital including 4G and longer bandwidth of internet broadband. The reason for this global change is that people consume more data per person and that consumption takes place on various devices such as tablets and phones. Currently, there are multiple vehicles to expose information, according to Amitabh. The innovation lies in how to increase the level of interaction between different media forms. In other words, it can be viewed as 'cooperation and collaboration' between previously unconnected media forms and platforms (Erdal 2011).
Challenges in India
So how do you make a country like India understand this particular change? Moreover, how do you convince people about the benefits of such a new product? Interestingly, India is the 3rd country in the world being 'online' and expected in 2020 is that 673 million Indians are online out of which 76% via mobile. Nowadays, people receive more choice through more interactive devices. The challenge lies in convincing the rather large 'old' generation in India to change their mindset and habits in exchanging information. How can elderly people adapt to such changes in technology and how can we best support them in this process? 'I checked with family members and grandfathers to hear their views enabling me to understand the best way to go about it. There is a general fear also that traditional media, like newspapers, will die which is not the case at all. It will always remain. The only thing is that currently there is a shift in perceiving technology and information from different angles providing space for innovation and creativity. That keeps me going: the ever-changing environment in the world of media forcing me and all of us to change our perception constantly, play with new forms and pick out the best one enabling us to live our lives easier.' And that's what it's all about.
Nowadays Amitabh is responsible for TERN (TV Entertainment Reality Network) channel called INSIGHT in Asia. This company brings first-class programs to viewers globally by producing over 400 hours of original Ultra HD content that takes the viewer on an adventurous journey to explore and interact with stories. And guess what: headquarters is in The Netherlands, Hilversum. Talking about change!