What did Dronacharya say when his pupil Arjun raised his bow at him in the Mahabharata? We don’t know, at least we don’t remember. But when Prannoy Roy was asked about the new channels from his previous ‘shishyas’ threatening his dominance, we know what he said without bowing his head, ‘Welcome’.
Present at the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association (CBA) conference as a panelist, Roy was the centre of attraction because one hardly gets to see this seasoned media tycoon in public.
Speaking on the topic ‘Making a Difference: Income and Impact’, Roy said, “Media raises aspirations by showing the life of people from all over the world and the voters demand the same kind of life. It also bridges the gap between the politician and voters by keeping the latter on focus 24x7.”
“Barriers of entry have come down in the TV space. The major barrier in any space has always been the dominant brand. But this has been invalidated in the new media space as new brands like Google have demolished the established brands,” he said.
When asked by the audience how to retain talent in a competitive media market, Roy said, “Providing a free environment for journalism should be the first priority of media organisations. I believe a journalist values his freedom more than anything else. If you try to encroach upon his freedom, then he won’t withstand that. With the proliferation of media, now an average journalist has the power of mobility. If you could enhance and upgrade his talent by regular training, then retaining talent won’t be a problem.”
Later, while interacting with the media, Roy said, “We have the best of the talents in the industry. For the best talents amongst the newcomers to journalism, we have always been the first choice. So, we have built up a very vibrant asset base as of now.”
When a journalist quipped whether he considered the new faces of the news channels as his foster sons, referring to Rajdeep Sardesai of IBN and Arnab Goswami of Times Now, who have spent most part of their television career in NDTV, Roy quickly agreed to the description.
When queried whether his channel was not facing the same brand demolition theory that he spoke upon, Roy said, “Yes, one needs to constantly provide quality coverage to viewers.”
Asked about the craze of new English news channels to partner with foreign broadcasters and whether NDTV was thinking along the same line, Roy said, “We have no such plans. We are proud to be Indians. Indian talent can take on the international talent anywhere, anytime.”
Replying to a query on public-private partnership in the field of broadcasting, Roy said there was ample opportunity in this area in terms of new channels and joint productions. “Politicians should be kept out of the public broadcasting system. Its not their Disc player,” he quipped.
When pointed out that in recent weeks, IBN had been shown above NDTV, Roy retorted, “Our share has remained the same before and after the launch of IBN. It is CNBC, which has been the biggest sufferer, and its viewership has decreased after IBN’s arrival.”