Industry’s Perspective: UK Asian media channels react to coronavirus

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With the coronavirus outbreak creating much hysteria globally, UK Asian television and radio channels are preparing themselves for one of the most turbulent periods in history. BizAsiaLive.com got in touch with leading media executives to understand their position on the pandemic.

Neeraj Arora
Executive Vice President at Sony Pictures Networks

We as an organisation do not currently have any reports of an instance of COVID19 or contact with the virus within our local office

However, we are staying sensibly vigilant and are following guidelines put in place by our corporate head office.

This includes suspension of all business travel, the highest level of hygienic/sterile workspaces and employee self-isolation (including working from home in applicable circumstances) at the first sign of any unwellness or symptoms of cold or flu.

Govind Shahi
Executive Vice President – Head International Business, Indiacast

It’s a challenging time for everyone. We are seeing very little effect as of now but I think in the next few weeks we may see some adverts go off air or pushed to a later period.

From a different point of view, I think advertisers/brands could get more bang for their buck as viewing is going to go up across networks with people being glued to their TVs and it may be a good time to establish your product if its relevant.

I think the major challenge will be after a few weeks if India gets affected in a bigger way and if production of our dailies have to stop in India. That would affect programming and that can hamper business though we are looking at alternatives should that happen.

Sumant Bahl
Director, World Media Connect

Yes, there has been immediate hit as we have seen more than a few of our travel related clients pulling back by putting hold on campaigns and delaying start of their new campaigns, we are expecting the same to hit hospitality sector such as restaurants, banquets, Movie releases etc very soon.

We believe negative news is spreading faster and creating panic like situation. This has surely impacted our ad revenues and we believe will continue to do so for some time.

Tony Lit
Managing Director, Sunrise Radio

At times like these I believe it’s important to remain calm personally as well as professionally. At Sunrise we are continuing to provide our listeners and our commercial advertising partners nationwide with a service they rely upon in their daily lives.

I also think it’s very important to be prepared and at Sunrise just like many broadcasters we have made contingency plans to be able to continue broadcasting in every scenario, thank goodness for the wonders of modern technology. Most importantly we must have faith in our Government, the expert scientists that advise them and we should remember just how lucky we are with the dedicated and professional front line services that care for us – a very big thank you to all of them. The people of this nation are very resilient, we should all be responsible, look out for each other and continue as normal as best we can.

We are after all Great Britain.

Raj Baddhan
Director, Sabras Radio

Up until now it has been business as usual for Sabras Radio. However, we are gearing up for the imminent change in existing clients – With flights being grounded, travel agents will cut down on spend. Similarly, mass gatherings will prohibit large concerts taking place, which will hit regular promoters up and down the country. And with more people preferring to stay at home than out – restaurants, bars and clubs will be affected too. It’ll be a difficult few months but together we’ll come out stronger.

In terms of programming, we’re increasing news updates on Sabras to inform listeners (particularly elderly) about COVID-19, plus putting in contingency plans in place in case presenters are affected by the illness. Our line-up of shows will enhance further as more people tune into local radio to get updates on what the situation is like in their area.

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