India’s media and entertainment broadcasting system is heavily dominated by family-run networks, be it the broadcasting networks or film studios.
In the past, and even presently, it is only the passion of the promoters that have managed to run the networks. Sans the involvement of promoters, the broadcasting networks often go off the track.
Zee has been exceptionally profitable because it was fully controlled by Subhash Chandra and family. Network18 was able to establish itself as a premium premier because of Raghav Bahl’s passion to build a world-class broadcasting network.
Even in the news broadcasting business, it’s the families that are running the show. Be it the TV Today network, controlled by the Purie family, or the NDTV network, managed by the Roys. The reason NDTV has been able to make a comeback despite its failed expansion into entertainment is because the passion of the promoters did not let it go down.
The other exceptional examples include Times Network, controlled by the Jains; ABP and Republic World among others. Internationally too, the Murdoch family has been successfully managing several broadcasting businesses.
The passion of promoters is behind most successful business broadcasting ventures in India. There have been very few examples where investors, fully corporatised or the board-dominated network, have been successful in India. With the Subhash Chandra family losing control of Zee, it would be a fit case to see whether investor-led networks, without the passion of promoters, could be successful in India.
Also, reports of the Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries planning to sell off Viacom18 have brought the question of media entrepreneurship to the forefront.
Experts say that the complex broadcasting environment in India demands that only promoters who are 100% committed to their networks are more successful in managing their businesses.
“Till the time Subhash Chandra was focused only on the broadcasting network and allied services, he was having a good run. His other business interests led to his downfall. But what saved him was Zee, which is still being managed by his son,” said an expert.
Another expert said that even Star India is going off the track post the Disney acquisition of the parent company globally. Star India posted a loss of more than Rs 1,200 crore. Before the Walt Disney acquisition of 21st Century Fox, James Murdoch had a lot of interest in operations of Star India.
“From past experiences, it is very clear that only the promoter’s passion has made for a successful network in India. Unlike other businesses where professionals and investors have been able to run businesses without any involvement from promoters,” said a leading broadcast industry professional.
“But if you see, most businesses in India are anyway family dominated,” he added.