Cable TV

Obit: Remembering InCable’s Ram T Hingorani

MUMBAI: “Hi I am Ram Hingorani,” said the squeaky but very amiable voice. I looked around and saw this short bespectacled man dressed in a safari suit, with his hair slicked back. “I am here to show you around and I am with the media business of the Hindujas.”

The time was the mid to late nineties and I was at the Hinduja office in Worli, Mumbai, just diagonally opposite the Haji Ali Dargah and next to the NSCI to meet up with the group of young men that had set up InCable - the Hinduja foray into the cable TV business.

He was kind, gracious and over welcoming to a fault, Ram. He then went on to tell me how he had worked at The Times Of India for almost 30 years, retiring if I am right as a general manager or something like that. He then told me about being involved with the Ambanis in the nineties and the acquisition and relaunch of the quickly aborted Observer of Politics and Business and the Sunday Observer. He finally hopped onto the Hinduja group which had expanded into India by acquiring Gulf Oil, Ashok Leyland, apart from other companies.

He talked about the group moving into the business of media by introducing newspapers, magazines, TV stations, cable TV networks, among other initiatives.

The Hindujas had formed Induslnd Media & Communications company, which in turn would float four subsidiaries – In Cablenet, In Vision, In Movies and In Print. In Print was slated to publish magazines for specific niche markets, beginning with What’s In, a city entertainment and leisure guide which hit the stands and was distributed to its cable TV subscribers. RTH was in charge of In Print, which ran for a few years and then was phased out.

He was the Hinduja man as they shopped around for their media ambitions reaching out to the existing media houses along with Sudheendra Kulkarni, the then vice-president of the Hinduja group’s media wing.

Of all the ventures only one has survived the turbulent media times: the cable TV venture and part of the credit for that must go to RTH as he used to be called. He often played foil to the four musketeers as they were labeled– Yogesh Radhakrishnan, Jagjit Singh Kohli, Yogesh Shah, and Ram Punjabi –by working as a mediator between the Hindujas and them, easing out thorny issues. 

Along with them, he expanded InCable into 14 cities over 10 years. With the network set up, he moved out, new executives replaced him and he went back to the Ambanis’ Reliance Communications in a bid to set up a triple play venture using the existing infrastructure of independent cable TV operators.

RTH then retired in 2008 and lived a relatively sedate life – though he mixed around with the cable TV trade from time to time handing out advice – until he passed away on 24 May 2018.  

The industry came out singing his praises. Said Ashok Mansukhani who currently runs InCable: “He was a giant of a man. He also helped ‘corporatise cable’ and was very hands-on in a world of armchair CEOs.”

Added Dubai based president & CEO Mediastream FZE (an independent channel and content distribution company)  Rohinton Kapadia: “RTH was always positive even in the face of severe situations at critical times in our cable business. Having worked closely with him for many years I found him to be an inspiration for all of us and an invigorating leader at InCable. We all looked up to him as more of a father figure than our boss.”

Like the rest of the cable TV trade, sends out condolences to his family. And may his soul rest in peace.

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