By Varada Bhat
G Krishnan is no stranger to television. After a 16-year stint with TV Today Networks Ltd, one of India’s leading English-Hindi news television networks that runs channels like Aaj Tak and Headlines Today, Krishnan now plans to start his own television venture.
Industry executives who know Krishnan said he had already roped in TV Today’s former editorial head and Aaj Tak news director Qamar Waheed Naqvi for the venture. Naqvi, credited for coming up with the name ‘Aaj tak’ for TV Today’s Hindi news channel, quit the network in May.
Krishnan, who joined India Today group promoter Aroon Purie’s television business in 1995, was the key man behind the launch of TV Today channels — Aaj Tak, Headlines Today, Delhi Aaj Tak and Tez — and also its radio station, Oye Fm.
He resigned as the chief executive officer of TV Today Networks in September 2011.
Krishnan, 57, now plans to launch two channels — a news channel and a crime-based programming channel. “The venture is in its infancy. Other details like the names of the channels and launch dates haven’t yet been finalised,” an industry official aware of the development said on condition of anonymity.
Krishnan did not respond to calls and text messages sent by Business Standard.
His move comes at a time when the country’s television industry is set to see a high growth rate in the years ahead. With digitisation becoming a reality, Indian television broadcasters are looking to flood the airwaves with an assortment of channels featuring specialised content — from health and lifestyle to the secret lives of serial killers.
According to a report jointly prepared by industry body Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and consultancy KPMG, the television industry is expected to grow at a compounded annual growth rate of 17 per cent over the next five years to reach Rs 73,500 crore in 2016. The present market size is Rs 32,900 crore.
Most television media ventures in India are personality-driven like the Prannoy Roy-led NDTV and Raghav Bahl-promoted TV18.
Former Star India CEO Peter Mukherjea, along with his wife Indrani Mukherjea, had started his own venture, INX Media, which was funded by Temasek Holdings via Dunearn Investments, New Silk Route, New Vernon, Kotak and the SREI Group. In 2007, they had launched a general entertainment channel, music channel 9XM and news channel NewsX .
However, due to financial trouble, both Mukherjea and his wife stepped down from the management. In 2010, the general entertainment channel was sold to Zee entertainment, while the news channel was sold to Vinay Chhajlani, promoter and CEO of the Madhya Pradesh-based Hindi daily Nai Dunia and Jahangir Pocha, the former editor of Businessworld.
Krishnan’s close associates, however, said he had rich experience in the television industry and he had been a success in building several brands across the industry.
Krishnan is now in talks with financial institutions and international media houses, seeking their partnership in his new venture, they said.
“Krishnan is capable of recreating a media house given his knowledge of the industry. But the real challenge would be the ability to break through amid intense competition,” said the official quoted above.
Before joining TV Today Network, Krishnan had a stint with Bennett, Coleman & Co, the publisher of The Times of India newspaper. He was in the response department of the media conglomerate in Kolkata in 1978. Later, he moved to Mumbai and went on to launch India’s first private FM channel, Times FM.
He has also served as the chairman of the Media Research Users Council, member of the board of governors of the Advertising Standards Council of India, founder director of the Indian Broadcasting Foundation (IBF), and the head of the IBF-AAAI (Advertising Agencies Association of India) committee.