To tide over a severe shortage of trained manpower, broadcasting firms are looking to hire senior executives from other sectors and countries.
“The media and entertainment sector has grown around 20% in the past two years and is poised to grow at the rate of 19% year-on-year for the next five years,” said Timmy Kandhari, executive director, entertainment and media practice at audit firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).
Fuelling this growth are new companies, new channels and new businesses that broadcast firms are entering. More than 12 channels will go on air in the next 10-15 months and 71 others are awaiting clearance from the country’s information and broadcasting ministry to start operations. There are some 350 channels on air currently and the number could increase to 450 by next year. Among the new launches are 12 news and entertainment channels by INX Media, a company promoted by Indrani Mukerjea, the wife of former Star India head Peter Mukerjea; eight from the UTV stable; and four by B.A.G Films and Media. A recent report by industry lobby Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and PwC says the industry’s size will grow from Rs43,700 crore to Rs1 trillion by 2011.
The talent crunch, said experts, is one of the biggest growth barriers facing the industry. “The media space is today short on talent and long on demand,” said Peter Mukerjea who, because of contractual obligations with Star, cannot work for any other broadcaster till the middle of this year.
Executives in search firms said TV channels will need 10,000-12,000 entry-level recruits in the next two to three years. “The manpower demand in the sector has grown 10-fold in the last two years and it’s on the rise,” said Shiv Agrawal, chief executive officer, ABC Consultants, a search firm. Companies hire entry-level executives from schools such as the Indian Institute of Mass Communications, Asian College of Journalism and Mudra Institute of Communications. “Most media companies have an intensive induction programme for training fresh hires,” said Agrawal.
It is at the middle and senior levels that most companies face problems. Poaching from rival broadcasters can help to an extent—the overall talent pool is limited. Some companies are looking outside India for an answer. “For job roles such as marketing, sales and administration, one doesn’t really need people with domain knowledge. In fact, sometimes outsiders bring a fresh perspective to the table,” said Purvi Seth, vice-president, Shilputsi Consultants, an executive search firm.
INX Media recently hired Nick Pollard of Skynews, a UK-based news channel, and Richard Platt, former director of United Broadcasting and Entertainment, as consultants; and B.A.G. Films appointed Kim Hye Jin from Sieundesign Co. Ltd, a South Korea-based animation company, as general manager of its animation venture.
Salaries in the sector, too, have seen an increase and will likely continue to rise. Executives at search firms said a person with eight to 10 years’ experience in the broadcast business can expect as much as a 60% hike while changing jobs. Top media executives command anything between Rs1.5 crore and Rs3.5 crore a year. Not too many executives in the business earn more than Rs1 crore, according to executives at search firms, but the number of those earning between Rs50 lakh and Rs1 crore has increased significantly.
Salary structures in the broadcast business are changing too, said these executives, with an increase in the variable component. Bonuses are sometimes higher than salaries. And stock options are becoming the norm rather than the exception.
Some executives associated with the media industry said that the current talent crunch and the salary boom could combine and affect the broadcast industry’s growth. Some companies could be forced to exit the business, they added. Other executives said that an economy that grew at 9.2% last year, and which is expected to grow at 8.5% this year, will help sustain growth in the business.
“With 350-450 million viewers in India, there’s a huge potential for growth and the way out is planning your expansion appropriately,” said NDTV Pvt. Ltd chief executive officer K.V.L. Narayan Rao.