Subhash Chandra, the last 20 years has been
one man's war. He has allied and fought against Rupert
Murdoch, fallen and bounced back in winning spirit,
triumphed over the competitors, and grown a media empire
that can make anybody proud. A nationalist to the core,
he has a strong footprint in all the value chains of
the media business and stands independent in a media
landscape that is occupied by the multinationals.
in my early years of journalism, I remember the day
I rushed to my editor. I told him that I heard from
a source that the merger talks between Chandra and Murdoch
had snapped. He told me to go ahead with the story and
I was afraid that I could be proven wrong.
felt happy that the divorce took place. Some may call
this a sadistic pleasure but it made me feel nice that
my story in The Financial Express was right and, more
importantly, allowed me to observe the growth of a warrior
who was blessed with intuitive powers, strong business
acumen and an innate ability to get into untapped areas.
showed his true colours very early in life and in 1991
got the better of Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-Shing who asked
for $5 million to lease a transponder on AsiaSat. He
signed a deal with Richard Li a few months later that
would kick-start his Zee empire.
unchallenged growth from its origins in October 1992
halted in 2000 when Murdoch's Star launched Kaun Banega
Crorepati (KBC) and the three Balaji 'K' soaps. Chandra's
convergence game also went nowhere and kicked in losses.
But Zee expanded into the regional language markets
and Chandra also ventured into online lottery with Playwin.
rebound in the Hindi entertainment business happened
slowly. Chandra appointed Pradeep Guha as CEO in 2005
and inducted his son Punit Goenka
into the organisation.
Zee Telefilms Ltd (ZTL) got demerged in late 2006 into
Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel), Zee News Ltd
(ZNL), Wire and Wireless India Ltd (WWIL) and Dish TV
(DTH). He acquired Ten sports and has a growing sports
sprawling empire is not just in India but has strong
positions in different corners of the world with his
in 2012, Chandra is not in full retreat. He has passed
on the baton to his son but is still around. His overwhelming
personality can't be missed in the Zee office.
to "get off the fence" and "get in the
game" as head of Zeel in 2008,Goenka has proved
that he definitely is his fathers son. He ended
the rivalry with Murdoch and formed a distribution joint
venture company in 2011 to correct revenue leakages
and lift subscription revenues. He has identified growth
areas in regional, international and new media. His
target: to reach a billion viewers internationally in
(as he is called by his colleagues in the Zee group)
is hungry to grow his charge; whether it is sports broadcasting,
entertainment, overseas or in niche genres. In a tete
a tete with Indiantelevision.coms Sibabrata
he speaks pretty forthcomingly about the road ahead.