So what's up with the Murdochs and the Ambanis? Why are they defocusing from Hindi which the world was once made to think of as the only language in India? Why are they focusing on languages such as Kannada instead? What happened to the champions of the old-school teaching that India = Hindi? The answer is a straightforward one: people have finally realized the fact that India is a multilingual market. Big conglomerates are pumping in huge money into India's multilingual markets purely based on the simple fact that advertising revenue from non-Hindi channels outweighs that from Hindi channels by far.
The doomsayers are wrong. Again.
Time and again, pure business decisions (not emotional ones) are proving the doomsayers wrong. They were proven wrong when claims that Kannada movies can't spin money and are just fit for the front-benchers went for a toss and Kannada movies started making tens of crores of rupees and creating world records. The final nails into the coffin of the doomsayers were struck when the myth that Kannada Radio in Bengaluru has no takers was busted, and busted badly. The radio episode even put a full stop to media bullshit which once claimed that Kannadigas are a minority in Bengaluru.
A truely untapped business potential
Until now, businessmen were under the false impression that if they want to make money out of television ad revenue, the default language of choice is Hindi. Even for advertisers, Hindi was unduly and falsely marketed as the sole language, marketing in which will guarantee a return on investment. Although late, they have realized the business potential of tapping India's multilingual market.
The Kannada television ad market is estimated to be worth Rs. 200 crore and the battle for grabbing a bigger pie of this sum is hotting up with lots of new entrants on the scene. People now see sense in jettisoning old-school adherence to Hindi. Says Ashish Kaul, executive vice-president, Essel Group, the parent of the Zee network of channels:
It's all about keeping viewers within your broadcast family. Whether the viewer wants sport, news, entertainment or content in her mother tongue, she should get all she wants within your umbrella and shouldn't feel the need to look out.It is imperative for businessmen to understand and monetize socio-cultural and socio-linguistic factors in any soceity. The strong interleaving of language with the culture of a society makes success in a market crucially dependent on how well businesses understand and align with cultural and linguistic roots of the market. And yes, the Murdochs and Ambanis of the corporate world have understood it better than anyone else! Murdoch probably knew this from day 1, but Ambani (because of decades of Hindi imposition) probably needed investment experience outside India to understand the true India and its multilingual peoples.
Kannada means business
In the last couple of years alone, large corporations which have entered the television, radio & print media have felt the strong need to hire Kannadigas who are not just extremely talented, but also are well-versed in Kannada and understand the pulse of the local market. Businessmen have to fully understand the importance of Kannada in the Karnataka market and give up the utter stupid practice of airing hindi ads on Kannada media. They must understand that it is Kannada and only Kannada which can bring rich returns to their investement in ad space. There is no other go. The old-school is dead.