Chairman’s Message

TRANSFORM BY TACKLING MORAL DILEMAS SHAPING M&E TO DRIVE SERVICES GROWTH

We need to Overcome Moral Dilemmas successfully to realize transformation, says Sudhanshu Vats, Chairman – National Committee on Media & Entertainment and Group CEO & MD – Viacom18, presenting his insightful views

The first CII Big Picture event I attended was in 2012, I believe it was also the first edition of the event. As a regular learner at these events, I can say with utmost certainty that a lot of the issues we discussed back then – ambitious revenue targets, radio auctions, TV measurement, digitization and so on – a large chunk of it – while still relevant – are in various stages of development today. And that’s only fair – such is the nature of the beast we ride.

Also, this trend of convergence and consolidation – the 2 ‘Cs’ – is a universal one – taking place all over the world. That brings me to the theme of this edition of Big Picture – from convergence to transformation. This is an interesting thought, convergence is a reality – one that is here to stay. It’s being driven by consumer needs and industry’s response to those needs – meaning that it’ll be a long-lasting phenomenon.
Transformation is a much bigger – and more daunting – phenomenon. That said, what do we mean by ‘transformation’? It’s a big word. I’m going to do what my professor at university used to do when we asked her the meaning of a ‘big word’ – throwback 2 bigger words – MORAL DILEMMAS.

Interestingly, our rich cultural heritage is a treasure trove of insights when it comes to handling moral dilemmas. I recently had a young director from the South approach me with what he called was a ‘modern adaptation of the Mahabharata – told from the perspective of the Kauravas’. It was an interesting thought and we’re testing it – but that’s beside the point.

Let’s look at our industry and the moral dilemmas we will have to face or are facing – How do we deal with the power we have? What do we do if we find out that our reach and credibility is being used to influence electoral processes across the world?
How do we ensure fairness in the terms of availability of our content to our consumers and parity across distribution platforms? Especially in a foreseeable future when convergence is going to dial up vertical integration across value chains.

As consumption moves online, our access to data will increase. In many ways, data will be a competitive advantage and drive advertising revenues and personalized user experiences – what processes do we put in place to ensure it is not misused – how and where do we draw the line differentiating personalization versus privacy?
Human resources – our people- are our biggest asset – on screen and off it – how do we react when their individual, personal behaviour questions the fabric of the society we want to create? Think of this especially in light of the recent issues around diversity and inclusion that we’ve experienced. It’s important for everyone, but especially so for our industry.

The list of moral dilemmas is endless. We need to be cognizant of these dilemmas – as organizations, industry bodies, policymakers and governments - as we look to scale up our businesses.