An estimated 50 out of 180 members of Television ProgrammeProducers Association of Bangladesh are producing teleplays and drama series these days when the number of producers was over 250 a decade ago, the association president Iresh Zaker said.
‘The inactive members of the association are also looking for some alternative online platformsto continue or were being forced to quit business for good for it is difficult to survive in a already crimped TV entertainment business,’ Iresh said.
It became a challenging for producers to maintain the general standards and sell their creations to the TV channels that drastically reduced their budgets at a time when the local entertainment industry was facing a huge challenge vis-à-vis foreign satellite TV channels and various other online platforms like Netflix, he said.
‘Many producers left the industry as they couldn't adopt themselves after the change in the programme purchasing patterns. The channels startedasking producersto buy chunks or purchaseschedule and collect advertisements instead of directly commissioning programmes as they used to before, he said.
‘Capitalising on the situation agents appeared on the scene and started purchasing chunks and collecting advertisements, which made the situation very challenging for many reputed producers like us,’ he added.
The multinational companies, on the other hand, had drastically cut their budget for sponsorship in Bangladesh following an ever-growing popularity of the satellite TV channels in the country, said Iresh, the managing director of the country’s largest advertisement agency, Asiatic 360.
‘The multinational companies and even the local sponsors now depend on Television Rating Point or TRP-based measurement of popularity of programmes before fixing the rate of the commercials. The Indian channels remainahead of Bangladeshi when such an yardstick is used. A programme of Star Jalsa has more viewership than the cricket match of Bangladesh national team on the TRP rating,’ he said.
‘We know that the TRP rating in Bangladesh is not flawless and there is room forimprovement, still the companies depend on it for sponsorship,’ he said.
Iresh Zaker suggested that the flaws in the TRP rating system should be corrected with collective efforts in the greater interest of the local industry.
Being the managing director of Asiatic 360, Iresh however denied the allegation that he or his company often dictatedwho the directorand the castwould be in a particular production.
‘Some agencies practice this and TV channels frequently do it to ensure casting a popular actor often under the impression that this might increase the viewership of the production,’ he said.
IreshZaker also said that the owners of TV channels did not follow the international practice of the TV channel business. ‘But, the same owners follow the international business practice while doing their main businesses such as pharmaceutical business, garments business or poultry business,’ he said.
‘They should go for increasing the number of viewership and subscription of their channels by investing more money at a time when even the local viewers are subscribing to Netflix and foreign channels paying in dollars,’ he added.
The YouTube ratings, Iresh said, shows that local entertainment productions have huge viewership abroad, even in India.
‘Instead of blaming each other we should collectively work to revive the entertainment business by taking effective measures,’ he said.
The government must provide the crucial support needed to solve the outstanding problems including access of local channels to the India market through lobbying, he suggested.
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