Action replay is no longer the preserve of sports programmes.
Starting Monday, major general entertainment channels (GECs) including Star, Zee, Sony, Colors, 9X and NDTV Imagine are airing re-runs of programmes in an effort to put pressure on television programme producers to sort their wage-based stalemate with agitating television workers.
Viewerships might fall, but industry executives believe the move could help find a meaningful solution. Channels are insisting that this whole issue is between the producers and workers and they should sort it out among themselves. But advertisers say they might switch to other genres like sport if things are not sorted out fast.
For the past two-three years, the workers have been asking for higher wages. While the producers agreed to work on this, they have been unable to hike wages since, says an industry source, channels are not willing to pay more for the programmes as advertisers will not pay more for the ad slots, given the current bad market conditions.
“It’s a kind of domino effect,” said Chandradeep Mitra, president, Mudra MAX. “Naturally advertisers are not happy with advertising on reruns, but are willing to wait and watch for a week to 10 days. Broadcasters have requested clients and agencies to support them on this stand.”
Shashi Sinha, CEO of media agency Lodestar Universal, said by threatening to suspend work if their demands are not met, programme workers were “holding the industry to ransom.”
“If the industry gives in to such threats, it will be harmful in the long run,” Sinha said, worried about cost inflation hitting the industry.
Both the Indian Society of Advertisers and the Advertising Agencies Association of India have sent out advisories to their members – advertisers and media agencies – to support the broadcasters in their stand at least for the time being.