NEW DELHI: The new CEO & MD of Hinduja Media Group Ashok Mansukhani, a veteran of Indian media industry, has already got his priorities etched out and expressed willingness to work along with all stakeholders of the sector for the overall growth and mutual benefits.
Speaking to Indiantelevision.com, the bureaucrat-turned-corporate-executive Mansukhani said priorities included getting digital rollout of Indian TV services “back on track”, push for promotion of digitisation and increased education of consumers, explore how some of his cable segment colleagues could benefit from digitisation and last, but not the least, to work towards bringing other segments of the media and entertainment sector, including regulators and policy-makers, together so a conducive environment for a mature dialogue could be created.
Indirectly admitting that digitisation had hit roadblocks in the last 12-18 months owing to several reasons, Mansukhani said while the third phase of digitisation is coming to an end, edges in the fourth and last phase need to be ironed out. “At the end of the day, it’s a matter of 73 million homes in small towns and hamlets in the last phase of digitisation and we cannot take the task lightly,” he explained.
Mansukhani, a former Indian Revenue Service government official, has seen the Indian media industry (specifically the electronic medium) grow from staid Doordarshan days to the present vibrant --- and possibly a bit chaotic -- stage of evolution when the country has over 800 private sector licensed TV channels, several distribution platforms and approximately 50,000 cable operators. His stints at the pubcaster’s headquarters in New Delhi’s Mandi House area, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) and later in the private sector with the Hinduja Group, puts him in a unique position.
According to Mansukhani, who now will be heading the media assets of the multi-billion dollar Hinduja Group, including MSO company IndusInd Media and Communications Ltd (IMCL) and the HITS venture, the Indian media and TV industry is at a critical stage of development and hinted increased litigation and face-off with the regulator and policy-makers could be detrimental for the industry, which needs to come together to voice the genuine and common concerns of the industry.
“I would also like to see and explore how we can help cable operator colleagues and others benefit from digitisation,” Mansukhani said, adding that a more concerted effort needs to be put in by stakeholders, including broadcasters, distribution platforms and the regulator, to educate consumers, especially those in small towns, about the long term benefit of digitisation despite the monthly outflow in subscription fee increasing a bit.
“Consumer education is very important in general and especially for the fourth phase (of digitisation) homes. All of us need to support this education process as it would be beneficial for all stakeholders,” he said.
Mansukhani comes in place of Tony D’Silva, who joined the Hinduja Group on 1 August 2012 as the president of Hinduja Ventures Limited and strategised the group’s media businesses. D’Silva had expressed a desire to demit office after completion of his contract on 31 January 2017 to pursue “other interests and spend more time with his family,” according to an official statement from the Hinduja Group.
However, it needs to be seen how Mansukhani grows the comparatively new HITS business carried out under a separate group company, apart from tackling the challenges of IMCL, an MSO.