Whether we admit it or not, the truth is, there has been a drastic fall in the number of viewers watching Bangladeshi television channels. You don't have to take my word for it, asking the people in your life, when was the last time they turned on the television to watch something on a local channel? Working directly with the world of showbiz, which television is a large part of, we were intrigued to learn more, I wanted to know exactly what percentage of people watches local channels. So we ran a random survey of 50 individuals and asked them one simple question: Do you watch a Bangladeshi channel when you turn on the TV? And the results were more or less what we expected. We found out that between the ages of 15 and 25, only 6% of people watch local TV channels, which is 15% for those aged 25 to 35, 67% for those aged 35 to 50 and 34% beyond the age of 50. With more than two-thirds of Bangladesh's population under the age of 30, the results are overwhelmingly negative – but we didn't expect any different. But we wanted to dig deep into the matter and find out what the opinions of the people in the industry were about this. So, last week, Star Showbiz organized a roundtable on this topic – Why is Bangladeshi television losing charm? We invited representatives of television channels, show makers, actors, advertisers and even viewers. The cover story of today's Star Showbiz presents the key discussions at the roundtable.
My personal interpretation is that the local television channels have not yet realized the impending and highly probably disaster that is looming over their heads. It is high time for them to take a unified approach to improve their attractiveness to local viewers, because as we continue to lose local viewers to international channels, we will soon lose local advertisers to international channels as well – a trend that has already begun. I think Bangladeshi channels really need to specialize and build their own niches, in the world of competition where there are so many channels - you cannot define your market without creating a niche character for yourself. Everyone cannot be a mainstream channel. To do this, television channels must first find out what viewers want - and then cater programs to serve viewers, including aggressively promoting these tailored programs so that the target audience take notice, which should be segregated by age and class. In terms of entertainment, we live in a small world that is getting smaller every day. Bangladeshis don't even a television anymore to watch the TV programs they want to watch – they can download any show anytime, or buy DVDs. To face such fierce competition, our programs need to be reinvented. At the end of the day, we are all Bangladeshis, we have a latent connection to our motherland, our language, and to our culture – if interesting programs are made which remind us of these connections and strike a chord in our hearts – I believe it is not too late to bring the Bangladeshi TV audience back to local channels.