INX Group, the Indrani Mukerjea promoted brand that began with services in executive placement, has made a few key announcements regarding its foray into the broadcast space. By yearend, INX plans to launch three new channels – a Hindi general entertainment channel, a music channel and an English news channel.
An official communiqué stated that contrary to media speculations, the Murdochs don’t have anything to do with the venture and neither do Peter Mukerjea and Mukesh Ambani. However, as far as Peter Mukerjea and Ambani are concerned, the industry is far from convinced. Perhaps Mukerjea is only helping his wife Indrani (Chairperson of INX Media and INX News) in setting up the business but there is little doubt about his active involvement in the project.
Peter Mukerjea is in a six-month no-compete clause with STAR and the industry is convinced that he is the ‘Ghost Chairperson’ for INX Media and INX News.
When contacted, Indrani clearly stated, “We are looking for only the best media skills in this venture and who would be better than Peter, given his expertise in this domain. However, with a no-compete clause Peter cannot be a part of this at present and he is not. When the clause is over, whether or not he wishes to be a part of this project is a decision I completely leave to him.”
INX Broadcast at present includes INX Media Pvt Ltd and INX News Pvt Ltd. Together they comprise a Hindi GEC channel, an English news channel, various entertainment channels in regional languages, a music channel and city-specific channels. The Hindi GEC, music and English news channels will be launched by the last quarter of 2007.
As already reported by exchange4media, Vir Sanghvi will be the CEO of INX News and Editorial Head of the news channel. Sanghvi is looking forward to his new assignment. He said, “Before being made HT Editor, I had never put a newspaper together. I think every new job is a challenge where one extends oneself, so I’m looking forward to this. At a conceptual level, I’m already completely involved with the channel.”
Sanghvi stated that despite his continuing link with HT, his principal employment would be with INX News. He also informed that the recruitments for the channel would begin over the next couple of weeks.
Another man on board already is Winsley Fernandes, though there is no official confirmation on this yet. Fernandes was in STAR India’s BON&E (Operations) function and was moved to MCCS in 2002 when STAR News was relaunched in Hindi. In STAR News, his role was in the technical, operations and production functions. He quit in 2005 and was involved in the Tata Sky (then not named) launch in 2005. It is understood that Fernandes put in his papers as early as December 2006 and is now with INX Broadcast.
Yet another name is that of Shankar Narayan, former STAR India’s CFO, who, after a break following his resignation from STAR India, has also joined INX as CFO.
It remains to be seen how many ex-STAR will join the company now.
Indrani Mukerjea offered no comments on who are already on board at INX Media, stating that many are still serving their notice period. However, it is reliably learnt that key positions have already been filled in the programming, finance and sales functions.
In regards to the strategy on content and programming structure, she claimed that every function of the venture would be a mix of traditional and new formats of working.
Looking at what has been officially presented, Peter Mukerjea is on the INX Group’s board as Chairman, implying his involvement in the executive search business, which given his involvement in broadcast for all these years, is a new experience for him. On the other hand, Indrani Mukerjea quit INX Services in February 2007 and Prateek Basu replaced her. For Indrani, whose key skills largely lie in the recruitment sector, broadcast would be a new experience.
Nonetheless, she stated that she is enjoying the run so far. “It would be unfair to say that I have no broadcast experience. Most of the placements I have done are in the media domain and that gives you a certain knowledge of the domain. So while this is a new experience, it is not something I’m completely unfamiliar with,” she said.
The press statement also informed that the entertainment company INX Media Pvt. Ltd. has been financed by investors including Asias investment firm Temasek Holdings via Dunearn Investments, New Silk Route, New Vernon, Kotak and SREI Group. The news company, INX News Pvt. Ltd., will be 26 per cent owned by the entertainment company and, in accordance with the Government of India regulations, by a single Indian entity drawn from the INX Group, which is IM Media.