Win some, lose some for TV's tycoons in the year gone by

It has been a topsy-turvy year for the movers and shakers of Indian television. While some enjoyed windfall profits in the year gone by, more saw massive erosions in their personal wealth.

According to a survey conducted by business daily Business Standard, Zee founder Subhash Chandra, who was the top honcho from the television industry in list last year, continues to hold his position as Indian television's richest as far as personal wealth goes. A new entrant this year is Jeetendra Kapoor and family, whose Balaji Telefilms continues to prosper. Subrata Roy of the Sahara group, promoter of Sahara TV, has climbed up to 30th position from 33rd, his wealth having increased from Rs 4745.1 million to Rs 7791.8 million.

Chandra, who was fourth on the list last year, has however had to settle at number five, with a personal wealth of Rs 27,695.6 million - down from Rs 119,744.6 million one year ago. Vagaries of consumer choice dictated this year that Chandra's flagship Zee Telefilms be sidelined as one time ally Star TV fired on all cylinders through high-octane family soaps.

Jeetendra Kapoor and family enter the list at number 74, with a combined wealth of Rs 1,394 million. Balaji's sitcoms have been widely acknowledged as largely responsible for the phenomenal turnaround in Star TV's fortunes. This apart, its shows are the only ones which appear to be bright lights on an otherwise dark programming landscape in rival channels Zee TV and Sony Entertainment.

The others in the "Richie Rich" list who find a mention in the survey are the Adhikari Brothers, who the report says, suffered a loss of wealth of 87 per cent to settle at a modest Rs 340 million. Investors, the survey nsotes, supported the Sri Adhikari Brothers stock as long as brothers Gautam and Markand restricted their activities to producing TV programmes, but gave an emphatic thumbs down when they set up their own TV channel.

Pentamedia Graphics' V Chandrasekaran has fallen drastically to the 79th position from the 30th, his wealth having shrunk from Rs 9,181 million to Rs 1,236 million. Rajan Raheja, promoter of Hathway Cables, is also down from the 64th to the 84th position on the list. His wealth is down from Rs 3,216 million to Rs 1,123 million.

Subhash Ghai, Mukta Arts promoter, who is eyeing Indian television, also debuts in the list at number 57. Ghai was the first in Bollywood to go public in September 2000. His wealth today is at Rs 1,920 million, 43 per cent lower than the figure on the day Ghai's company got listed.

A few other major media players who are not listed in the market are also mentioned in the report.

A really big player on the unlisted list is undoubtedly the Tamil Nadu-based Kalanithi Maran, the king of the southern language television firmament. Maran owns Sun Networks and controls over 85 per cent of the Rs 4 billion southern TV advertising market. There is no reliable estimate about the wealth of Maran, but it is believed to be anywhere between Rs 8000 million to Rs 15000 million.

A major failure of the report must surely be the ommission of the other southern media biggie Ramoji Rao and his closely held Eenadu Group from its calculations. Rao has a virtual lock on both the print as well as electronic media in Andra Pradesh. Apart from that he owns the world famous Ramoji Rao Film city, which is a huge outdoor studio which provides world class production facilities. The total turnover of the group is Rs 7,500 million. There are no estimates available with on his personal fortune.

Aroon Purie of India Today comes next on this list. With print brands like Business Today, India Today etc with estimated value of Rs 1000 million and 24-hor news channel Aaj Tak (which reportedly broke even within only a few months of its launch) has a valuation close to Rs 1000 million and Living Media which publishes Purie's titles is worth Rs 2,000 million. The total net worth of Purie is thought to be close to Rs 4,000 million.

Prannoy Roy of New Delhi Television, another media player first came to the limelight as "the election specialist" who was a fixture on national broadcaster Doordarshan when national polling was on. After that it was his famous TV programme "World This Week" on DD which kept NDTV in the news. This 75 per cent owner in NDTV progressed from a one programme outfit to channel content provider. His fortune is estimated close to Rs 1,350 million.

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