Posts Tagged ‘Sudhir Agarwal’

The media Marwari who’s a ‘proper Tam-Brahm’

8 March 2014

goenka

After a long period away from the arclights, Viveck Goenka, the scion of one of India’s most influential newspapers, The Indian Express, is slowly bouncing into the main frame.

He is now playing an increasingly hand’s-on role at his own paper, making key decisions; is seen at media events, is making his presence felt on industry bodies—and is starting to give interviews.

In his first formal powwow in 20 years, in a special issue on Marwaris in the business magazine Forbes India, the chairman of the Express group, talks fondly of his grandfather, the late Ramnath Goenka, and even poses with his son Anant Goenka in a photograph (above) in the paper’s presses.

Viveck Goenka tells Forbes India:

# “Ramnathji taught us never to compromise on editorial values and freedom… to be fearless and not to be aligned to any political party. I have had a whole lot of people threatening me.”

# “There was one thing clear about Ramnathji. ‘If I have an end-goal, I don’t care how I reach that…’ I agree with him but not everyone does.”

# “I see myself as a proper Tamilian Brahmin [Goenka grew up in Tamil Nadu], that’s my upbringing.”

***

The chairperson and editorial director of Hindustan Times, Shobhana Bhartia; Subhash Chandra and his son Punit Goenka of Zee; Gulab Kothari and his sons Nihar Kothari and Siddharth Kothari of Rajasthan Patrika, are the other media Marwaris featured.

The interviews give an inside view of the austere and conservative business and management ethic of the original media Marwaris, which later generations are eagerly dismantling.

# Shobhana Bhartia: “When we started innovative advertisements, my father [K.K. Birla] was taken aback. ‘No, we can’t do this. You can’t affect page one, can’t place something in the middle of it.’ I can understand that his generation was not used to these things. He felt colour pages would be more like a comic book.”

# Anant Goenka: “[As a Marwari, I have] an inherent drive to spend wisely and to build wealth. Whether large or small, [the 2,500 sq ft bachelor pad he bought after running up hefty hotel bills] is our own. It’s a Marwari thing. We are obsessed with appreciation.”

# Punit Goenka: “It is clear that we are in the business to make money; we are not here for charity or for building power or influence.”

# Gulab Kothari: “If you borrow money for growth, I believe you can’t reverse that decision. The question is, do I give my children 100 per cent of the business or leave them to deal with an outsider who I sold a stake to? My view is, expand less and gradually… we don’t need to jump the gun by taking debt.”

The Marwaris who own The Times of India group, Dainik Bhaskar and Dainik Jagran “did not participate in the story or were not available”.

Photograph: courtesy Forbes India

Also readWhen Samir served a thali, Vineet served a scoop

‘Zee is the only news channel making money’

Power plans of DB Corp, Daink Bhaskar & DNA

2 March 2011

Conflict of interest is a barely discussed topic in the Indian media, more so in the languages, where media houses operate on the unwritten agreement that if you don’t touch me, I won’t touch you.

Here, in this la-la land, owners, editors, reporters, photographers et al inhabit a strange world where politics, journalism and business intersect and overlap, no questions asked.

Take a bow, The Hindu.

Aman Sethi in today’s paper reports on the stiff resistance building up in Chattisgarh’s Raigarh district, where 693 hectares of land is being sought to be acquired for a thermal power plant.

The company behind the plant?

DB Power, a subsidiary of DB Corp, the stock-market listed entity that owns the Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar, the English newspaper, DNA, the Gujarati daily Divya Bhaskar, and the business daily Business Bhaskar, and has just announced plans to enter the Marathi market.

The project to extract two million tonnes of coal to fuel a 1,320 MW power plant will displace 524 families from six settlements, but Sethi reports that the Raigarh edition of Dainik Bhaskar has been carrying full-page stories in favour of the project.

Although villagers are united in their opposition to the plant, readers are served up feel-good headlines like, “Black diamond to give sparkle to Dharamjaigarh’s destiny”, “Villagers take steps to support DB Power”, without once revealing the paper’s interest in the power plant.

“Company officials have been intimidating the villagers and are pressuring us to give our land, and the police are refusing to register cases against the company,” said Adhir Majhi, a resident of Baisiya Colony who shall lose his land if the power is cleared.

Image: courtesy Kafila

Also read:

Is it all over for DNA in the battle for Bombay?

26 September 2010

SHARANYA KANVILKAR writes from Bombay: The October 8 issue of Forbes magazine, from the CNBC-TV18 group, carries a four-page story that reads more like an advance obituary for DNA, the English broadsheet daily newspaper that was launched by the Dainik Bhaskar and Zee television groups to humble The Times of  India in urbs prima in Indus.

Five years and Rs 1,100 crore later, writes Rohin Dharmakumar evocatively citing the 1961 film Guns of Navarone, DNA’s original ambition lies in tatters, although the “theory” was perfectly feasible.

# DNA’s Bombay readership is down 15% from its 2009 peak, while The Times of India’s is 2.5 larger.

# DNA’s ad rates are one-third ToI’s on paper, but closer to one-seventh due to discounting.

# DNA’s revenue was Rs 148 crore last year, up 22% over the year before, but still Rs 70 crore short of covering its operating costs.

# DNA is now a distant No.3 in Bombay and Bangalore to Hindustan Times and Deccan Chronicle, respectively, and both are reportedly close to dislodging it from that position.

# Only current executive editor R. Jagannathan remains from DNA’s original star cast, many of whom were lured from The Times of India and hired at high salaries.

In hindsight, DNA’s faulty subscription drive, the launch and free distribution of Mumbai Mirror with ToI and the increase of ToI’s cover price to suck the newspaper budget of households so that a second newspaper cannot be bought, are seen to have been the key drivers in ToI fighting off the challenge.

Rahul Kansal, the chief marketing officer of ToI, is quoted as saying:

DNA came in with a lot of overconfidence. Heady with their launches in Gujarat and Rajasthan, they thought The Times of India would be a sitting duck. They started their outdoor campaign four months in advance, giving us adequate time to launch a new paper. I think they displayed their hand way too early, so by the time they launched, we had already soaked up a lot of the reading appetite.”

The southward turn in DNA’s fortunes is reflected in Subhash Chandra of Zee edging out partner Sudhir Agarwal of Dainik Bhaskar for a more hands-on role. Cost-cutting is the mantra of DNA’s CEO K.U. Rao, a former Shell executive in his first media stint.

“Probably the most stark sign of DNA’s transformation comes from Bangalore, where just over a year after it spent Rs 100 crore to put up a state-of-the-art press, it is now using it to print over 200,000 copies of Bangalore Mirror for The Times of India,” writes Rohin Dharmakumar.

The Forbes piece will be available online after October 7.

26% of India’s most powerful are media barons

6 March 2009

The latest issue of India Today magazine carries the annual ranking of the 50 most powerful people in the country, and 13 media worthies find a mention.

All but two of them have shown an improvement over last year’s ranking. Remarkably, only one major English newspaper group is on the list.

The brothers Samir and Vineet Jain who run The Times of India group, come in at No.8 (up one place from No. 9 last year); Raghav Bahl of Network 18 is at 15 (up from No.18); Ronnie Screwvala of UTV is at No. 20 (up from No. 24); Subhash Chandra of Zee Network is at No. 22 (up from No. 20); Kalanidhi and Dayanidhi Maran of Sun Networkare at No. 24 (up from No. 31); Ramesh and Sudhir Agarwal of Dainik Bhaskar are at No. 35 (up from No. 37);  uncle and nephew Mahendra Mohan and Sanjay Gupta are at No. 39 (up from No. 45); Rajeev Chandrashekhar of Asianet and Suvarna is at No 46 (up from No. 50).

The only media barons whose stock has gone down are Prannoy and Radhika Roy of NDTV who are at No. 42, down 20 places from No. 22 last year.

Missing from last year’s list is T. Venkattram Reddy of Deccan Chronicle and Asian Age.

As always, though, the masala is in the fineprint.

Indu Jain, we are told, no longer visits office. Samir’s daughter Trishala‘s soon-to-be-husband is already ensconced on the fourth floor of Times House in Delhi. Raghav Bahl watches Balika Vadhu. Screwvala has moved into a home in Breach Candy in Bombay that he and his wife Zarina Khote worked on for five years. Subhash Chandra practises Vipassana for 45 minutes every day. Kalanidhi’s “centre of gravity” is his daughter Kaviya. Rajeev Chandrasekhar has Ferraris, BMWs and India’s largest collection of Land Rovers in his fleet, although his favourite is a red Lamborghini.

Also read: The 11 habits of India’s most powerful media pros

Forbes can name India’s second richest woman

Is this man the next media mogul of India?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,220 other followers

%d bloggers like this: