Campaign India Team
Mar 18, 2009

Anant's blog: Of ET Now, Dick Francis and Robert Fulgham

Last morning a reader forwarded me a mail purportedly sent by Ravi Dhariwal to all employees of Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited. Considering who forwarded the mail to me, I have no doubt that the mail in question is genuine. In the mail, Dhariwal talks of the troubled times that BCCL is going through. Rising newsprint prices and a fall in advertising demand has forced him to suggest a restructuring of the salaries, variable pay and increments. 

Anant's blog: Of ET Now, Dick Francis and Robert Fulgham

Last morning a reader forwarded me a mail purportedly sent by Ravi Dhariwal to all employees of Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited. Considering who forwarded the mail to me, I have no doubt that the mail in question is genuine.
 
In the mail, Dhariwal talks of the troubled times that BCCL is going through. Rising newsprint prices and a fall in advertising demand has forced him to suggest a restructuring of the salaries, variable pay and increments.
 
In making the case, Dhariwal says, “Our future in the company depends on how quickly and effectively we put it back on the path of profitability.  I am sure I can count on all your support towards this goal. What we do now, in the next few months, will greatly determine how we come out of this challenge.”
 
To underline the seriousness of the situation, Dhariwal wrote, “In times like these,  we all are asked to make personal adjustments and sacrifices  for a  greater cause; to nurse the company back to the pink of health it once was.  I am sure all of us are working harder, and, hopefully smarter to overcome the challenges that we face.  Today, every advertisement is a battle won and every rupee earned is hard fought.  Advertisers and Agencies have simply cut their planned promotional budgets, a mistake in my opinion as advertising is  the best way to ensure top of line growth, but, I guess they are dealing with their own issues and demons.  We are trying innovative approaches including integrated solutions of all the media that BCCL owns, to provide an effective solution to our advertisers. But, each deal seems to require much more persuasion  and does not bring as much revenue as it used to.”
 
Done with reading the mail, I spent some time thinking of the paragraphs reproduced above.
 
And I thought to myself, why on earth launch ET Now now?
 
And I got caught up in work and forgot about the matter.
 
Last night, I picked up a book (ironically, it’s called Risk, written by Dick Francis), intending to read a few pages over dinner. I’ve read the book any number of times, so I speed-read.
 
Reached page 4 – and stopped and stared at a sentence:
 
I would never forget Thursday, March 17th.”
 
As I was reading these words, it was Tuesday, March 17th.
 
And the next sentences bored into my skull:
 
The most shattering questions were those to which I could think of no answer at all.
Why? What for? And what next?”

 
The three questions best articulated my confusion on the decision to go ahead with ET Now when the media industry, despite the best efforts by their teams, are going through a small hell.
 
Why start a new channel in the business news segment now when the existing players are bleeding? Is there any sense in joining the bloodbath?
 
Even if the channel is brilliant from day one, where on earth will the revenues come from? The Economic Times is struggling for revenues and there is no reason to believe that the channel would find it easy. If anything, the revenue that would have gone to the newspaper (which is an undisputed number one) would be split between the newspaper and the channel. That makes matters even worse.
 
Reminds me of another book I read perhaps 20 years ago. It’s a book by Robert Fulgham, the same worthy who wrote All I really need to know I learnt in kindergarten.
 
This one’s a little less known and is called It was on fire when I lay down on it.
 
I can’t remember the exact words of the core thought of the book, but the gist goes something like this.
 
“How did you get burned?”
“The bed caught fire.”
“How did that happen?”
“I don’t know. It was on fire when I lay down on it.”

Source:
Campaign India

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