How telcos lost the media plot1 min read

Where are the telecommunications companies? About five years ago, the bets were that telecom companies would become media majors – that they would acquire big media firms or destroy them through the sheer force of disintermediation. This is because selling entertainment and news on the mobile phone was till last year a Rs 25,000-crore business. Telcos that are bigger and more profitable than media companies controlled the billing, the consumer and, more importantly, over 80 per cent of revenues, earned by selling ringtones and so on. Unlike newspaper or television companies, telcos were not dependent on advertising revenues. Mobile phones reach almost 900 million Indians, and are, therefore, the single largest device in consumer hands after the radio. So it shouldn’t have taken Bharti Airtel or Vodafone long to overtake the Times Group or Zee in the Rs 83,000-crore market for media and entertainment in India.

It hasn’t happened.

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