ITV Network‘s Karthikeya Sharma picks up majority stake in Barun Das‘ ad sales firm

MUMBAI: ITV Network MD Karthikeya Sharma has picked up majority stake in private equity backed ad sales agency Cent Percent Media Solutions, a company co-founded by former Zee News CEO Barun Das and Amit Tripathi, who was heading the ad sales function of Zee News.

Sharma owns ITV Network, which runs a clutch of news channels. Besides Hindi news channel India News, the other regional-language channels are India News Haryana, India News Bihar-Jharkhand, India News Rajasthan, India News Chhattisgarh and India News UP.

Last year, ITV Network acquired English news channel NewsX from Vinay Chhajlani and Jehangir Pocha.

With this stake dilution to Sharma, Cent Percent Media Solutions will handle the ad sales of the ITV-owned channels. The plan is to have a slew of regional-language news channels.

Commenting on this acquisition, ITV Network MD Karthikeya Sharma said, "Barun and his team have tremendous track record in managing news television business in the highly competitive genre. Also given the proliferation of niche and regional channels that I foresee, riding the digitisation of cable distribution, Cent Percent is an extremely exciting proposition."

ITV Network CEO R K Arora added, "Our thrust is on content and marketing strategy, which has already started showing results."

Cent Percent Media Solutions is outsourcing adverting sales organisation with its core focus on regional and niche channels.

Cent Percent Media Solutions co-founder Das said, "Regionalisation and Digitisation are the primary growth drivers of TV media, where so far the profitability has been the prerogative of only a select few. With capacity growing exponentially due to digitisation, Indian TV industry is poised for the next big leap. In a country of 1.24 billion people with 22 official languages, niche and regional language channels would realise their true potential, now. I expect more 200 new channels, mostly regional and Niche would be launched in next 3-5 years. Cent Percent would be a one-stop shop to meet the advertising revenue challenge of all niche and regional channels who may not find it viable to build a strong national sales team."

Tripathi added, "We would have a strong national team with about 70 leading sales professional. Our initial plan is to build a bouquet of regional news channels which would be the biggest and most effective one from the point of view of national advertisers. Within the first fortnight of its operations, Cent Percent has signed up with seven high potential regional news channels. We are confident that before the new financial year, we would be setting up a bouquet of 10 regional news channels. Our primary bouquet would have one channel each from leading regional TV markets of India. We would carefully handpick those channels."

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