“It was a very miniscule percentage of our advertisers,” observed Sanjay Gupta, COO, STAR India. He explained, “Mention of associate sponsors comes once in a 30-minute episode and hence, was neither creating value for advertisers or for us as a network. We spoke to our key clients and agreed that we will drop this completely.”
Gupta informed that the decision is applicable to all such advertisers, across all STAR channels.
However, the media agency fraternity views this as a “unilateral” decision as some claim they were not informed about this change.
A leading media agency head explained, “The channel may be billing us on ad spots but when we evaluate a plan, it will consider everything that it includes, which means associate sponsorship and promo tags. The channel has every right to make changes in its policies but it needs to be communicated well in advance so that we can then take our decision – this is a financial decision at the end of the day. You cannot stop something after we have bought it.”
While Gupta reiterated that all key clients were informed, a few media agency heads stated that the decision was informed to them after the ROs for the month of April were already sent. In some case, they were informed after they had enquired on the subject.
The other fear that borders the case is that the development will have a cascading effect on other networks such as Multi Screen Media and Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd as well.
STAR India has taken another step in changing its sales process. The company has decided to stop all mentions of associate sponsors across its fiction shows, for all its channels. The development became effective April 1, 2012. The policy does not apply to any high impact property, which would mean non-fiction, blockbuster properties and other format shows.
For a few years now, broadcasters in India have packaged their advertising sales deals in a manner that included Associate Sponsor status and promo mentions as value add given for a certain size of sales inventory or spot buys. STAR India observed that the number of such advertisers had reduced in the last two years.