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Writer: Noor Fathima Warsia - Wednesday, Mar 04,2009 7:43 AM

MSM busy with IPL, regional expansion & slew of new programming on Sony

It has been two weeks now since Multi Screen Media (MSM) lost its CEO Kunal Dasgupta. Man Jit Singh, who has been the Chairman of the MSM Board since 2007, has taken complete charge of MSM operations now as its interim CEO. For MSM, not much has changed in the last two weeks, and both Man Jit Singh and MSM COO NP Singh have been busy working across properties of MSM to ensure that the company’s expansion plans are on track.

Regional markets expansion at MSM

The big one from the company is its foray in the regional market. In conversation with exchange4media, Man Jit Singh said, “We are about to announce the acquisition of a regional channel in the Eastern India market – we are waiting for some details to seal before we announce that. In our overall regional expansion plans, we are in southern India per se, since that is a large market. Gujarat is also something we are interested in. You will see some of these channels take off in 2009 itself, but we are clear that in the next few years, we would be in all of these markets.”

The company is looking at both inorganic and organic growth in 2009. As the regional plans finally kick off for the company, MSM is also focussing on getting its flagship channel Sony back on track. The host of new primetime shows are in place that would be launched on Sony post the IPL. The shows are a mix of both format and fiction properties. Not that this is the first time Sony has tried this, but the channel is convinced of its future course of action.

Elaborating on this, NP Singh said, “Our plans for Sony give us enough confidence of the fact that we are moving in the right direction, and we would be able to reach significant GRP numbers. I see this happening post the Indian Premier League’s second season. We have recently launched some shows, which would take us through the IPL, and post that, a slew of new programming is in place.”

NP Singh emphasised that the other channels from the group were also picking up. He said, “We have finally got the positioning right for Sab and in the coming fiscal, we see it giving us a distinct competitive advantage. On Pix, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is a shot in the arm for the channel and you would see more first runs in 2009.”

IPL on track

As is known, MSM has seen problems with the BCCI over the Indian Premier League. Man Jit Singh sees this as any partnership where there could be different views, but at the end of it, the parties come out stronger. He maintained, “For us, IPL is a long term strategic asset, built on a partnership. In any partnership, there are disputes and you come out stronger from it. We and the IPL Commissioner have worked through our issues, and all that is behind us now. What I believe it did is that both parties have come out stronger.”

On the raging controversies over the Big TV-Airtel issue, and the said compensation that MSM has to make consequently, N P Singh stated, “That is just media speculating and there is no point in us commenting on that.”

Man Jit Singh and NP Singh informed that from the MSM perspective, it had been a smooth transition for the network post Kunal Dasgupta’s exit. Man Jit Singh said, “A CEO in a company like this is really a team effort. NP and I are jointly managing this, and we have a strong team with our Revenue Head, our CFO and all the other key members. There isn’t this sudden great shift or requirement to do something dramatic; it is very much a part of the day-to-day operations at present. And having worked with the team here for the last two years, it is not like coming in as a brand new CEO.”

Man Jit Singh also added that the announcement for the new CEO, who could also be an internal candidate, would be made post the IPL.

Also read:

Kunal Dasgupta quits Multi Screen Media; Man Jit Singh takes over as interim CEO

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