'Why would BCCI want its biggest new property on a new channel?'

For Sony Entertainment Television (Set) India CEO Kunal Dasgupta, the big wish for 2008 is to throw up that one hit narrative show that would get some momentum going for his network's flagship channel Set.

Other than the vexed issue of Set and its equally struggling Hindi GEC sibling Sab, the network is doing fine thank you, argues the long serving head honcho of the Indian broadcast operations of Sony Pictures

In conversation with Indiantelevisiojn.com recently, Dasgupta looks back on the difficult year that was 2007 and offers some pointers to the strategic direction Set India (now renamed Multi Screen Media Private Limited) is looking to take in 2008 and beyond.


Let's start with the new name. Is this because your parent Sony Pictures Entertainment is distancing the Sony brand name from the Indian broadcast entity?

Certainly not. The name is reflective of the company's evolution from a pure television broadcaster to a multimedia one. We want to be on all screens that are video enabled. Going forward, we will be actively investing in mobile, movies, internet, and out of home screens. Mobile in particular is going to be a focus area for us.

When you say you want to be on all screens, could you elaborate on that?

I am going to be recycling the over 30,000 hours of television content and 750+ movie titles that I have with me. We plan to repurpose a lot of it not just across the different screens, but across networks too.

The realm of exclusivity is no longer the norm. To stay ahead of the game you have to be focused on how best to leverage the content that you have.

Like the Rs 40 crore (RS 400 million) deal you did with Peter Mukerjea's INX for 60 movie titles?

Yes. That deal entitles INX to three airings of each film I have syndicated to them.

Looking back to 2007, how would you rate the performance of the channels in the Sony network?

Well, Max was fantastic; Pix became viable. On Sony and Sab we have suffered reverses on account of our fiction programming not working.

And looking ahead into 2008?

The business paradigm is changing and we are at the forefront of that. You could say we are the catalysts for change. Syndication, mobile; these are going to be areas that will explode. The one who reads the writing on the wall and adapts will survive.

On Sony and Sab we have suffered reverses on account of our fiction programming not working

How has the year been in terms of revenues? The perception in the market is that Sony had a terrible year.

If you add up ad sales, distribution and our international business, it would be Rs 1,200 crores (Rs 12 billion) overall, so you can't say it was a terrible year.

One reason for the perception that Sony had a lousy year, aside from its programming not working, was the ICC World Cup debacle in March. We understand you lost some RS 800 million odd due to India's early exit. Comment?

The ICC rights should not be looked at from the results from one tournament, but on how it delivered over four years. And it delivered on every count for us.

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