Archive for December, 2010

Digital inclusion for rural empowerment

21 December 2010
There is a need to create an Indian model of information system suited to our needs, says Sam Pitroda

Geetika Rustagi

New Delhi: India needs to develop its own model of how to utilize information and communication technology (ICT) to benefit the masses, said Sam Pitroda, adviser to the Prime Minister on public information infrastructure and innovations.

“We need to create an Indian model of information system suited to our needs,” Pitroda said at the 7th Manthan Award South Asia 2010, hosted in New Delhi on Saturday.

Also Read Catch the Manthan winners in action

Organized by the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF); One97, a provider of mobile value-added services; Internet Society; and the Indian government’s department of information technology (DIT), the theme of the awards this year was “empowering rural masses through wireless, 3G and broadband”. Mint is a strategic partner of The Manthan Awards.

The awards seek to promote innovative ICT products from across South Asia.

Organizers received 456 entries for the competition, of which 434 were accepted. These included 313 from India, 57 from Sri Lanka, 51 from Bangladesh, 31 from Pakistan, two from Nepal and one each from Afghanistan and the Maldives.

A 20-member jury selected 41 winners out of 77 finalists in 15 categories: e-agriculture and livelihood, e-business and enterprise, e-culture and heritage, e-education, e-entertainment, e-environment, e-governance, e-health, e-learning, e-localization, e-news and media, e-inclusion, e-travel and tourism, community broadcasting and most innovative nominations.

“Broadband is electricity for the 21st century. You give bandwidth to grassroots innovators and they are ready to implement a million ideas,” said Osama Manzar, founder of DEF and curator of the award.

“The maximum participation we saw was from the inclusion category and also the toughest to decide for the obvious reasons. Categories like environment, entertainment, culture and heritage and science are the least popular ones, which is a concern,” he said.

The participants in the programme included government officials, students, community and industry leaders, and entrepreneurs. They addressed concerns such as content, connectivity, infrastructure and policy and regulation with regard to rural technology.

Ramamurthy Sivakumar, managing director, sales and marketing for Intel (South Asia), said digital information and consumption, especially for mobile data, is growing twice as fast in tier-3 and tier-4 cities compared to tier-2 cities. This will be boosted further by the availability of cheap mobile phones that can be used to communicate via video. “India is a content-rich nation. In five years, an average Indian will have three devices in their hands.”

But Rajneesh D. Singh of the Internet Society disagreed. There are more content consumers than content creators, and this is the biggest challenge for India, he said.

Jayalakshmi Chittoor, a consultant on ICT for development, said a platform was needed to allow people working on similar technologies to be able to coordinate with each other.

Poor connectivity is another challenge in the dissemination of content. “The Internet is the greatest instrument of providing equal opportunity as enshrined in India’s constitution. But the constraint is Internet access and broadband in remote areas,” said Mohammed Haleem Khan from the ministry of rural development.

“The government should provide access to existing infrastructure on a sharing basis,” said Michael Ginguld, chief executive of AirJaldi, a wireless network provider. “This will help in fixing the gaps in digital infrastructure.”

Power shortages hamper steady connectivity. “Technologies should be developed which complete the whole process of transaction, even if the power goes off. Work your way around your weaknesses,” said Ashish Sanyal, secretary, DIT.

Mahabir Pun of Nepal Wireless, a 2007 Magsaysay awardwinner, said the right policies were crucial. “Funds are not a problem for people like us, we can somehow manage,” Pun said. “But clarity on policy and regulations needs to be achieved.”

The experts also suggested that taxes should be reduced on Internet access and delivery terminals, and there should be collaboration between government and industry for providing demand-driven training, content creation and delivery platforms.

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Tokyo Government To Regulate “Harmful Content” In Anime, Manga And Games

By Ishaan . December 18, 2010 . 10:00am

In 2009, a legislative amendment that would prohibit the depiction of any virtual youth appearing to be under the age of 18 engaging in sexual activity was proposed in Tokyo. As a result of the language used being vague and open to interpretation, the bill was pushed back for revision by the Democratic Party of Japan.

Following revision, the bill has been officially passed by the Tokyo government, hoping to prevent the sale of material containing underage sexual activity along with themes of rape and incest in Japanese media to those under the age of 18. This covers games, anime and manga.

The Tokyo government is encouraging these industries to regulate themselves, and prevent the sale of such material to minors, and this self-regulation will be mandated from April 1st, 2011.

The bill in question, Bill 156, classifies this harmful content as “Any manga, animation, or pictures (but not including real life pictures or footage) that features either sexual or pseudo-sexual acts that would be illegal in real life, or sexual or pseudo-sexual acts between close relatives whose marriage would be illegal, where such depictions and / or presentations unjustifiably glorify or exaggerate the activity.”

The bill also empowers the Tokyo government to restrict manga, anime and other media — excluding live photography, ironically — that unjustifiably glorify sexual acts. Reuters report that in the interest of free speech and expression, a work’s artistic and social merits will be taken into account during the regulation process.

So, now for the big question: How exactly will this regulation of adult material take place? That’s where things get rather dicey.

By Bill 156, if a publisher releases content that the Tokyo government deems to be harmful to minors more than 6 times within a single year, the publisher will be reported to the self-regulatory body responsible for it. If the publisher offends again within half a year, the Tokyo Governor will have a right to humiliate them publicly.

To put things into perspective, Japan already has an “adult comics” rating for manga to prevent sales of adult material to minors. All material currently labelled as being “adult only” is accommodated in a separate section of Japanese retail stores, away from the “regular” material. Bill 156 seeks to restrict such subject matter.

Retail stores found violating the bill will potentially face fines of up to 300,000 yen ($3,573) once it passes on July 1st 2011. Keep in mind, however, that this bill’s effect on publishing and distribution of “harmful” works will only be felt in the Tokyo Metropolitan area.

But what about digital content, which is quickly catching on? Bill 156 covers this, too. Mobile phones are the most widespread means of accessing digital content as well as browsing the Internet in Japan. The Tokyo government now has the authority to prevent access of certain material to mobile phone users under the age of 18, based on their registered age, through an Internet filter that is activated by default.

If the minor’s parents wish to deactivate this filter, they will be required to submit a written request to the concerned cell phone provider.

Manga publishers in Japan have voiced their intention to challenge the bill until it passes, and have already begun to demonstrate their objection. A group of ten major publishers, for instance, are refusing to participate in March 2011’s Tokyo Anime Fair in opposition of the bill.

Longtime Japanese media translator, Dan Kanemitsu’s blog has a translation of an interview with Tokyo Governor, Shintaro Ishihara, conducted by Weekly Asahi magazine, where Ishihara comments on his outlook on the bill and why it is being passed.

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Good news for TV, print as advertisers keep faith

December 14, 2o1o

Traditional media holding off digital challenge in the Chinese market. Yu Tianyu in Beijing reports.

When Mark Twain read his own obituary in 1897, he wrote a letter to his friend assuring him “the report of my death has been exaggerated”.

The same could be said for China’s traditional media, say analysts.

In contrast to the sector’s continued advertising slump in the West, research shows companies targeting Chinese consumers are sticking with television, newspapers and radio. For the time being, anyway.

Total advertising expenditure in the first three quarters of 2010 rose 14 percent on last year to a record-breaking $64.5 billion, according to the latest data from market research firm CTR. Growth was seen across all three traditional sectors.

The old guard are still attracting “international companies due to their enormous influence on local consumers” in big cities, said Yuan Shimin, a top freelance brand consultant based in Beijing.

He explained that the country’s “good economic situation and huge consumer spending potential” has largely fueled the boom.

According to the CTR data, spending on television advertising hit $49.67 billion by the end of the third quarter, an increase of 12 percent on 2009.

Newspaper and magazine advertising both saw a 19-percent rise, generating $8.56 billion and $1.65 billion respectively, while radio spots made $1.58 billion, up 33 percent.

Statistics from the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television also show that television and radio stations had seen gains of more than 10 percent as of October, compared to the same period last year.

The full recovery of the Chinese macro economy has “helped create a stable environment for growth in advertising” and robust consumption has “directly strengthened various industries’ confidence”, explained Barry Cupples, chief executive of Omnicom Media Group’s Asia Pacific operations.

Major events at home and abroad have also played a part.

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Internet, Emerging Markets to Fuel Ad Growth in 2011

By Kristen Schweizer and Sarah Rabil – Dec 7, 2010 2:42 AM ET
WPP CEO Martin Sorrell

WPP Chief Executive Officer Martin Sorrell. Photographer: Tim Boyle/Bloomberg

Dec. 6 (Bloomberg) — Martin Sorrell, chief executive officer of WPP Plc, talks about the outlook for the advertising industry in 2011. Sorrell speaks with Margaret Brennan on Bloomberg Television’s “InBusiness.” (This is an excerpt of the full interview. Source: Bloomberg)

Worldwide advertising spending will continue to recover next year, led by expanded Internet marketing and outlays in emerging economies, according to researchers ZenithOptimedia Group Ltd. and Magna Global.

Spending will increase 4.6 percent next year, after “surprisingly strong” 4.9 percent growth in 2010, said ZenithOptimedia, a company owned by Publicis Groupe SA that buys advertising for clients including drugmaker Sanofi-Aventis SA. Magna, which tracks ad sales not spending, projects 5.4 percent growth in 2011, following a 6.9 percent gain this year.

Web advertising is growing three times faster than the market as a whole, according to ZenithOptimedia. China will become the third-largest ad market behind the U.S. and Japan next year, displacing Germany, it said. While spending is recovering after the 2008 financial crisis, advertising growth is short of the “long-term trend rate of 6 percent,” London- based ZenithOptimedia said.

“The key result of this update is the continued rise of developing markets and digital media, and their central role in driving global growth,” ZenithOptimedia Chief Executive Officer Steve King said in the report.

In a separate forecast, WPP Plc’s GroupM media-buying unit said today that global ad spending will probably exceed $500 billion in 2011 for the first time. Ad spending will increase 5.8 percent over 2010’s $474 billion, the company said in a statement.

‘Significant Rebound’

“We’ve seen a significant rebound in advertising spending in the U.S. over the last six months,” GroupM Chief Investment Officer Rino Scanzoni said in the statement.

WPP’s Chief Executive Officer Martin Sorrell told Bloomberg TV in an interview today that the U.S. ad market is “marked by a bounceback” of traditional advertising, behaving more like an emerging market than a mature one. Sorrell added that the U.S. market will not grow as strongly in 2011.

WPP, the world’s largest ad company, continues to seek small-and-medium-sized acquisitions and is seeing “some excesses” in the mergers and acquisitions market, Sorrell said.

GroupM said measured global advertising recovered nearly all the dollars it lost in 2009. ZenithOptimedia said that worldwide ad spending won’t exceed the 2008 peak until 2012. High debt in the developed world, U.S. unemployment and default concerns in the Eurozone pose risks to growth, the agency said.

ZenithOptimedia predicts growth of 5.2 percent in 2012 and 2013. Worldwide ad spending will total $449.7 billion this year, the company said.

Web, Print, TV

Web spending will rise from 14 percent of the market in 2010 to 18 percent in 2013, fueled by video and social media, ZenithOptimedia said. Newspaper and magazine outlays will shrink 2 percent. TV remains the dominant medium and will expand its share to 42 percent by 2013 from 41 percent this year.

Growth in Internet outlays may be even larger given Web- related “activities that do not count as ad expenditure in the traditional sense,” King said in the report.

With ad spending growth of 51 percent projected for the next two years, China will overtake Germany as the world’s third-largest ad market in 2011, ZenithOptimedia said. Asia Pacific spending will rise 23 percent, the company said.

Expenditures in Latin America are projected to grow 26 percent from 2010 to 2013, while North America will increase 9 percent and Japan 5 percent during the same period, according to ZenithOptimedia. Spending in central and Eastern Europe will increase 31 percent.

Magna, owned by Interpublic Group of Cos., estimates advertising sales worldwide will increase 5.4 percent to $412 billion next year and top the firm’s prior growth estimate of 4.2 percent with Argentina, India and China leading the way.

The ad market recovered more quickly this year than anticipated, with projected 6.9 percent growth outpacing the firm’s 5.6 percent estimate.

Online advertising will overtake newspapers as the world’s second-largest ad medium behind TV by 2013, New York-based Magna said. Internet ad revenue may reach $117 billion by 2016, it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kristen Schweizer in London at; Sarah Rabil in New York at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Vidya Root at; Peter Elstrom at

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Click ‘like’ for Malaysians, the world’s friendliest folk

Saleha Way

Last Updated: Dec 1, 2010

Malaysians on average have 233 friends on their social networks, compared with the world average of 119.Teh Eng Koon / AFP

The country’s love of making friends, online and off, makes it a gold mine for online advertisers who are increasingly moving into the social-networking side of the internet

It must be their gregarious and friendly nature that makes Malaysians embrace the social media.

Or it could be an act of defiance against the relative lack of media freedom that makes portals and social networks their platforms of expression.

More likely it’s a combination of both – and other factors such as easy access and the Malaysian education system of boarding schools – that has recently led to their being named the friendliest people in the world.

According to the recent Digital Life study by the global research company TNS, Malaysians on average have 233 friends on their social networks, compared with the world average of 119.

Malaysians are also the heaviest users of social networking, averaging nine hours a week compared with 5.2 hours a week in rapid growth markets such as the Middle East, Latin America and China, says the survey, the largest ever digital research project on online behaviour, covering 50,000 people across 46 countries.

“I’m not that surprised to hear that,” says Mas Muhammad Sukri bin Masika, 28, who has just graduated from a German university and has 487 friends on Facebook. “Malaysians were already the top users of Friendster in its heyday.

“One main reason is that many of us were sent away to boarding schools at an early age, followed by university. Social networking is an easy way of keeping in touch.”

Malaysians, like many South East Asian cultures such as those of Indonesia and the Philippines, are open to establishing friends, online and off. The Malaysian way is simply to invite everyone they know.

The hundreds of guests at a wedding or a free-for-all party to mark a national festival such as Eid, Chinese New Year, Diwali or Christmas are a testimony to this “open house” concept.

Another reason for the rise in Malaysia’s number of social media users is the cheap and easy access to the internet. The unit cost of access and fixed-term contract requirements are about a tenth of Australian rates.

Facebook is the most popular social network, with 8 million Malaysians accessing the website last month, according to the Malaysian Digital Association.

YouTube, Friendster, MySpace, Flickr and Twitter are also in the top 10 social networks in Malaysia. This global outlook is different from its east Asian neighbours such as Japan, Korean and China, where the main social network is locally developed.


The potential to make money in Malaysia is therefore enormous. There are 16 million web users in the country, a number forecast to rise to 20 million within two years.

A high proportion of these are young and savvy users, the type who make up a high volume of the traffic on social-networking sites. This is the future generation that Facebook is targeting with its new e-mail service.

With the Malaysian economy improving (some people are even talking about a property bubble), the future certainly looks bright for the providers of digital life.

Social media started out as a playground for computer geeks. Today they are a force in the advertising world. This drives earnings on networking sites, which are free to users and hence dependent on ad revenues, to new heights.

According to published forecasts, social media spending is poised to explode, with revenues reaching multibillion dollars by 2012.

A recent study by the US market research company comScore found social-networking sites accounted for more than 20 per cent of all display ads viewed online, with MySpace and Facebook combining to deliver more than 80 per cent of ads among such sites.

“Over the past few years, social networking has become one of the most popular online activities, accounting for a significant portion of the time internet users spend online and the pages they consume,” says Jeff Hackett, a comScore senior vice president.

“Because the top social media sites can deliver high reach and frequency against target segments at a low cost, it appears that some advertisers are eager to use social-networking sites as a new advertising delivery vehicle.”

The industry vibes are certainly positive. DiGi Telecommunications, a big mobile service provider in Malaysia, plans to spend up to 50 per cent of its advertising budget on digital media, with a focus on young professionals.

“We believe Malaysians have become more internet-savvy and DiGi is determined to explore this new space more than ever ,” says Albern Murty, its head of products and segment marketing.

“We have already started evolving beyond ‘traditional’ digital advertising and managing our social media communications.”

Global digital companies, take heed.

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