Television

Saluting India's TV women

Women in media. Women in banking.

When you think of it, there are more women holding- or have held - powerful positions in banks today, then there are those holding them in media and entertainment companies.

Arundhati Bhattacharya chairs India’s largest bank - the State Bank of India. Chanda Kochchar occupies the corner office as CEO and managing director of ICICI Bank. Shikha Sharma sits atop in the CEO’s seat at Axis Bank. There are other names too whose names have been perched above the C office including Usha Ananthasubramanian (Punjab National Bank), Naina Lal Kidwai (HSBC), Kaku Nakhate (Bank of America Merrill Lynch) and Shubhalakshmi Panse (Allahabad Bank).  And there are scores of other unnamed women who run other banks, branches and finance companies. They collectively oversee money running into lakhs of crore.

Banks and the finance sector encourage diversity a lot more than India’s entertainment and media firmament, or so it appears.

Go down over the years and one has to really dig deep to name women who have been appointed in positions of power leading the business of media and entertainment companies in India. Some of the names that come to mind are Ravina Raj Kohli who helped Kerry Packer set up Channel 9 in early 2000. Monica Tata who oversaw HBO in India and now heads a business channel. Swati Mohan who is the business head of Fox Networks Group and National Geographic India. BBC south Asia & south east Asia senior vice-presidet & general manager Myleeta Aga Williams. Then there is Supriya Sahu who currently leads India’s pubcaster Doordarshan.

The major broadcast networks across the country are led by men: Uday Shankar, Punit Goenka, Sudhanshu vats, and NP Singh.

And women who have got the topmost position in broadcasting have achieved it by virtue of being promoters. India TV has Rajat Sharma’s wife Ritu who keeps the business in order while her husband handles editorial. Kaveri Kalanithi  is executive director of Sun TV of which her husband Kalanithi is executive chairman. Anurradha Prasad promoted the BAG group and leads the radio and TV network. Ritu Kapur and Vandana Mallick of course held powerful leadership positions at Network18 group before its was sold to Mukesh Ambani

The broadcast and digital sectors have their  share of women who have the responsibility of either heading programming, ad sales, marketing or channel clusters. Examples are Manisha Sharma and Simran Hoon at Colors, Nina Jaipuria at Nick, Kavitha Jaubin at Sun TV, Sharda Sundar and Sunita Uchchil at Zee TV, Gayatri Yadav at Star India, and Swati Shetty at Netflix are some of the names that immediately come to mind.

It is on the TV production front that women have made a stellar mark. Ekta and Shobha Kapoor, Rashmi Sharma who heads a production house that bears her name, Raadhika who promoted Radaan Television down south, Fazilla Allana and Kamna Menezes of SOL Productions, Benaifer Kohli,  Anita Kaul Basu, Comall Wadhwa or Bhairavi Raichuria are some of the ladies who have produced content which has earned them a reputation and their broadcast networks hundreds of crores.

Then of course women have become iconic on television shows – soaps, drama, factual and non-fiction, and news. The number of female characters on TV which are unforgettable far outnumber the men. For every Kapil Sharma or a Daya there are many more Tulsis, Parvatis, Ballika Vadhus, Priya Ram Kapoors or  Naagins.

On the news front,  Barkha Dutt, Shereen Bhan, Sweta Singh, Anjana Om Kashyap, Nidhi Razdan, Ayesha Faridi, Nidhi Kulpati, Nidhi Razda, Sagarika Ghose among scores of others have stood out. There was a time when India’s Doordarshan news ladies were the nation’s connect to developments. Remember the eighties and nineties?

Going forward with the world of digital exploding and television continuing to go from strength to strength, more and more opportunities will crop up. And India’s talented women will embrace them.

(The list of women executives mentioned here is just representative of those working in television and is illustrative. There are many more women working in television whose names could have been mentioned. And the editorial team at indiantelevision.com would like to see more women running television and digital businesses. As is the case with banks where women are business leaders.)

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