Don Kummerfeld – Remembering the legend

Chander Rai of Cross Border Media Inc pays a heart-warming tribute to the famous leader of international media

e4m by Chander Rai
Published: Jul 23, 2012 6:38 PM  | 8 min read
Don Kummerfeld – Remembering the legend

Don Kummerfeld

When you are nearing seventy and you have to decide on how to live the rest of your life – either with the continuation of a hectic life or opting for a world of relaxation to retire peacefully in your beach cottage in Cape Cod, what would you choose? It was no surprise that my dear friend, Don Kummerfeld, with his irrepressible energy, his active mind, his undaunted enthusiasm and his flair for public speaking, chose the latter!

I first met Don Kummerfeld at a Harvard Club luncheon in 2001. Soon after, I came to work in New York; he had just taken as President and CEO of FIPP (International Federation of the Periodical Press). While the FIPP headquarters were in London, Don worked from a small office in mid-town Manhattan. He took to this demanding international assignment like a bird to the sky, flying all over the world.

In October 2002, at the annual meeting of MPA (Magazine Publishers of America) held that year at the Biltmore Hotel in Arizona, we really got to know each other. We met at the opening Dinner Reception, sponsored by Advertising Age, and discovered we had so much in common. He was very upbeat on India and I was looking for suitable partnerships for the India Today Group. That year MPA held its first International Day, focused entirely on China. Don and I discussed how almost every major publisher had started looking internationally and many at India, about which they knew so little, particularly about the publishing industry. We agreed that to do something about this.

During the next year, Don and I worked towards taking a FIPP delegation for an exploratory visit to India in Feb 2004. The response was overwhelming, with magazines publishers from Australia to Argentina signing up. The final list included representatives from the top publishing companies in the world including Mondadori, EMAP, BBC Magazines, Marie Claire, Sanoma Magazines, and IDG. We worked on the itinerary for the delegates to visit some key publishing companies in New Delhi, and as a bonus, a tour to Jaipur and Agra, at the newly opened Oberoi Raj Villas seven star properties. Thrown in for good measure was a lunch personally hosted by me at the The Delhi Gymkhana Club. The delegates were also invited to attend the The India Today Conclave, and many took this opportunity. It is noteworthy that every single publisher who came on this trip soon established partnerships in India, either with licensed arrangements or joint ventures!

Don’s growth strategy for FIPP was to help form media organisations in each country so that the periodical press could benefit from having a collective voice and common benefits. The country associations would be supported by FIPP and be Associate Members of FIPP. India’s growing publishing industry was of special interest to Don.

The formation of AIM (Association of Indian Magazines,) can be traced back to a dinner, which I organised for Don to meet Ashish Bagga of India Today. Don asked Ashish to spearhead the forming of the association in India. Don also spoke to other publishers in Delhi, and made a special trip to Mumbai.

Don was always willing to promoting media activities in any new country. So when Ahmed Al Mansoori, DCR & M, (Dubai Consultancy Research & Media) requested him to help organise a Middle East Publishing Conference in Dubai, Don immediately agreed. In view of my long stint in Dubai, Don called me up to assist. The First Middle East Publishing Conference was held in Jan 2005. The following year WAN joined FIPP to collaborate on the conference, which was more successful. Don and I spoke at both the conferences. Now Don wanted to start a magazine association in Dubai, which had a number of vibrant newspaper and magazine publishers. I went with Don to Dubai and we spent five days meeting different publishers. We arranged a get-together of all the magazine and newspaper publishers but unfortunately according to Dubai law, an independent media association was not allowed while the FIPP constitution did not allow local chapters in other countries, unlike IAA.

Don and I met in several countries for several conferences and worked together on many projects. He invited me to speak at the FIPP World Congress in Paris, and again in Beijing, and at the first FIPP Digital Media Conference in Tokyo and of course we also met at the annual AIM conferences in India

Don was a master at the art of collaboration and negotiation. I worked closely with American Business Media in New York as their International Adviser, when they decided to hold a World B2B summit in New York in conjunction with FIPP. Don came over for meeting at the ABM offices and at the end of the day, everything was agreed on. Don firmed up the programme, chose speakers from different parts of the world while I arranged the two from India including Anurag Batra, exchange4media and Pradeep Gupta, Cybermedia.

My fondest memory of Don is the evening when he and Beth invited us for dinner to discuss my retirement and my future plans. By then many members of FIPP and MPA were coming to me for advice on their forays into the Indian and Middle East markets. Don advised me to set up my international strategy company in New York and advised me on the incorporation of Cross Border Media Inc. Don continued to support my efforts. He agreed to come as Keynote Speaker to the first conference I organised in New Delhi, ‘Monetizing Your New Media Platforms’, that year.

Don and I shared a common love for Japan; he, because of his wife Beth who was of Japanese descent and I, because I had spent time in Tokyo as a student at Keio University. In New York, Don, Beth, my wife Lekha and I would meet at least once a month for brunch...Often Don would take us all to the Metropolitan Club, of which he was a member, for a great seafood repast. His daughter, Tia had her wedding reception there. Sometimes we would take them to an Indian restaurant, or Turkish, but most often to Cibo on 41st and Second, half way between our apartments.

We would catch up at these brunches, and talk about our personal and professional challenges and frustrations, our younger days, our lives in India, Don’s growing up on his father’s farm, Beth’s early days in Japan, etc. Don had studied philosophy at Stanford and my wife Lekha had studied philosophy too; sometimes their arguments would be so heated that Beth and I had to intervene.

Don would tell us about his travels, the new associations being formed all over the world – Uzbekistan, Eastern Europe, about his visits to China and the tremendous progress he saw there. We would discuss articles in the New Yorker, which he and Lekha read avidly cover to cover. He told us of how he visited Kummerfeld, a small hamlet in Germany from where his fore fathers had come and some Kummerfelds still live. Don would advise me on my company. He had friends and acquaintances in media all over the world, and would give me introductions in China, South Korea, and Argentina. The brunches became a ritual over the years.

Don visited India several times in the next few years. He attended all the AIM annual meetings. He loved the bar at the Delhi Gymkhana, shopping for gifts at Cottage Industries, walks in the Lodhi Gardens, even coming to our in Delhi for a simple, “idli dosa” breakfast. Don had the great gift of being able to sleep soundly on a flight. He always arrived in a new country fresh, rested and ready to go. Once, he flew back half way across to the world just in time to dance at our daughter’s wedding in New York.

The last time we met, Don had retired from FIPP and had moved to New Jersey. Lekha and I took the train one summer morning to meet them. He was waiting at the station on his bike, looking so much leaner and fitter. He took us to their apartment, where Beth was waiting. We sat, talked and looked through old photographs. Then they took us for a wonderful long lazy Japanese lunch in a restaurant overlooking the ocean. After lunch Don showed us the little town and the community garden where he did volunteer work, before walking us to the train station. What a lovely day!

Unfortunately, soon after that I became unwell and then moved for treatment at MD Anderson in Houston. At the end of last year, I got an email from Don saying he had moved back to his original work in the government and asking when we could meet.

The obituary in the New York Times plays tribute to great work he did as Crisis Budgeter and first Deputy Mayor in the 1970s in saving the economy of New York. The obituary mentioned all his media activities in one line, but for the time I knew him, he was so avidly interested in and so closely involved in international media.

Don was such a warm and caring person, always helpful, with a good word for everyone, and a big smile on his face. He will be missed by his many friends all over the world.

Chander Rai is President and CEO of Cross Border Media Inc

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Tribes group acquires V-Square Media to create media entity - praNetR Tribes

V Square Media is a Bengaluru-based branding, media and marketing agency

By exchange4media Staff | May 29, 2023 2:59 PM   |   2 min read

praNetR Tribes

Tribes Group, an independent full-service media and advertising group, has acquired Bengaluru-based V Square Media, a branding, media, and marketing agency, and created a new entity - praNetR Tribes.

This acquisition brings together the complementary strengths and expertise of both companies, paving the way for a new era of innovation and growth. By harnessing their collective strengths, praNetr Tribes aims to deliver unparalleled content, services, and experiences to audiences worldwide.

This strategic acquisition will fuel the development of groundbreaking initiatives, leveraging cutting-edge technology and creative storytelling to engage audiences across multiple platforms. With an unwavering commitment to quality content, insightful narratives, and captivating entertainment, the new entity will redefine the media landscape. The acquisition is expected to unlock synergies, drive operational efficiencies, and create a solid foundation for sustained success. By integrating talent, resources, and distribution networks, the combined entity will be better positioned to meet the evolving needs and preferences of audiences, advertisers, and partners.

Recognising the fragmented nature of the ad production industry, praNetR Tribes presents an integrated platform for specialists and technicians to collaborate and work efficiently on projects in conjunction with brands and talent. The leadership teams of both organizations will work collaboratively to ensure a seamless integration and maximize the potential of the acquisition.

On the launch of praNetR Tribes, Gour Gupta, Chairman of Tribes Communication, shares his thoughts, saying, "Together, we will leverage our collective strengths to deliver innovative and compelling content that resonates with audiences globally. This acquisition is a testament to our shared commitment to excellence and our vision for the future of media.”

Lokesh Kumar, CEO of praNetR, comments on the new venture, “This acquisition is a transformative step that will elevate our collective impact on the media industry. By combining forces, we will unlock new opportunities, accelerate growth, and provide our audiences with unparalleled content experiences. We look forward to the exciting possibilities that lie ahead."

Headquartered in Bengaluru, praNetR Tribes operates across markets in India and abroad through the extensive Tribes Communications network.

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HT Media consolidated revenue up 8.3% at Rs 494 cr in Q4 aided by growth in print & radio

Ad revenue from the company’s print business grew 8% at Rs 269 cr

By exchange4media Staff | May 19, 2023 8:06 AM   |   2 min read

HT Media

HT Media Group reported a 8.3% rise in the fourth quarter with the consolidated total revenue at Rs 494 crore as compared to Rs 456 crore in the same quarter last year. The company reported a loss before tax of Rs 34 crore for the quarter ended March 31, 2023, versus a profit before tax of Rs 10 crore in the year-ago period.

The rise in revenue was supported by continued growth in print and radio segments, while the margin was impacted due to higher newsprint prices and investment in new business in the digital segment.

Commenting on the full-year results, Shobhana Bhartia Chairperson and Editorial Director of HT Media Ltd. & Hindustan Media Ventures Ltd said, “Geopolitical strife hampered supply lines across businesses and impacted raw material costs, especially in the first half of the year. The second half of the year witnessed a relatively subdued festive season on account of sluggish retail spending but the year ended with an uptick in business sentiment in our key segments and a slight softening in raw material prices.”

Ad revenue from the company’s print business grew 8% at Rs 269 crore for the quarter while on a full-year basis, it grew 12% from a year ago. Improvement in ad revenue on a full-year basis primarily led by ad volume and growth in both English and Hindi businesses.

The radio segment also saw an 18% rise in operating revenue in the quarter to Rs 36 crore.

Bhartia said, “Indian OTT space is one of the fastest growing pillars of the Media & Entertainment industry. Hindustan Media Ventures Ltd. looks to tap this potential with the launch of, a platform that aggregates OTT content, with a focus on abundance, convenience, personalisation, and affordability.”

“In the current fiscal, we are focused on building on our growth momentum from last year as we navigate the larger macro environment as well as the evolving media ecosystem. As always, our endeavor is to be a source of credible news and engaging content for our audiences,” she added.

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Bankruptcy court dismisses insolvency plea against Dish TV promoter: Report

The plea was filed by IDBI Trusteeship Services on behalf of Franklin Templeton Asset Management (India) Pvt Ltd

By exchange4media Staff | May 18, 2023 2:06 PM   |   1 min read

dish tv

A bankruptcy court has dismissed a plea by IDBI Trusteeship Services Ltd to initiate a corporate insolvency resolution process against Dish TV promoter Direct Media Distribution Ventures Pvt Ltd., according to a media report.

The plea was filed by the debenture trustee on behalf of Franklin Templeton Asset Management (India) Pvt Ltd, which had acquired non-convertible debentures worth ₹425 crore issued by Essel Infraprojects Ltd in 2015.

Direct Media had assured corporate guarantee on behalf of Essel, on the basis of which the trustee approached the Mumbai bench of the NCLT to admit the promoter after it failed to furnish dues of over Rs 599 crore, inclusive of interests, say media reports.

In a rebuttal to the petition, the promoter's counsel Nausher Kohli said that the debentures matured on May 22, 2020. Direct Media's guarantee was invoked on June 12, 2020, and the default date occurred during the suspension period, barring the admission of an insolvency petition.

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Cable operators write to TRAI to push for OTT regulation: Report

TRAI is currently conduction a study on licensing OTT content and will be releasing consultation papers for the same

By exchange4media Staff | May 18, 2023 11:26 AM   |   1 min read


In a push to create a level-playing field for TV and streaming content, multiple cable operators have reportedly approached the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to regulate OTT platforms.

A news report said that cable operators approached the regulatory authority as they felt threatened by the unbridled rise of OTT players. TRAI, on its part, has yet to come to a decision and is currently conducting a study on licensing OTT content; consultation papers for the same will be released in due time.

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Shemaroo Entertainment’s revenue from operations up 46% YoY

The company has reported 94% YoY rise in EBITDA

By exchange4media Staff | May 16, 2023 12:49 PM   |   2 min read


Shemaroo Entertainment’s revenue from operations for the fiscal ended 31st March 2023 has increased by 45.9 % to Rs 556.6 crore as compared to Rs 381.4 crore in the previous fiscal ended 31st March 2022.

For the fourth quarter ended 31st March 2023, the company’s revenue surged 75.8 % to Rs 164.5 crore compared to Rs 93.6 crore in the corresponding quarter of the previous fiscal.

Announcing Shemaroo Entertainment’s financial results for the fourth quarter and financial year ending 31st March 2023, the company CEO Hiren Gada said, “Considering the external economic scenario, I am very pleased with our overall performance in this financial year.”

The company’s Profit After Tax (PAT) was up by 136.5 % to Rs 4.8 crores compared to Rs 2.1 crores in the fourth quarter ended 31st March 2022.

Commenting on the results, Gada said, “We started on this journey of changing our business strategy in 2019 and against all odds and headwinds that we have faced over the last few years, we have overcome all these challenges and have been successful in meeting our strategic goals.

“We are extremely confident that the agility, strength and innovative business model, along with a professionally run organization with freshly inducted talent from the media industry, will see our company delivering strong financial performance in the coming years.”

The company also saw an annual growth of 23.3 % in digital media and 66.5 % in traditional media in the financial year ended 31st March 2023 compared to the previous fiscal.

ShemarooMe, the OTT Platform released 14 new titles during the fourth quarter ended 31st March 2023 and the general entertainment channels (GECs) recorded a viewership share of 9 % in over all Hindi GEC genre.

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Amazon lays off at least 500 in India

The departments that saw pink slips were Amazon Web Services, HR and support functions

By exchange4media Staff | May 16, 2023 11:00 AM   |   1 min read


Amazon has handed out pink slips to at least 500 employees in India, media networks have reported.

The people who have been let go were with Amazon Web Services, HR and support functions.

CEO Andy Jassy had said in April that Amazon has begun laying off employees in its advertising unit.

As per the company, it was "prioritizing resources with an eye towards maximizing benefits to customers and the long-term health of our business".

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Media houses must comply with rules with regards to organised conclaves/summits: MIB

The MIB said it has come across as a violation at a recent media event   

By exchange4media Staff | May 10, 2023 1:47 PM   |   1 min read


Noting that e-cigarettes were promoted at a business summit of a prominent media house in New Delhi, the I&B ministry said in an advisory to media houses and satellite TV channels.

The ministry has directed newspapers, private satellite TV channels, publishers of news and current affairs content on digital media and publishers of online curated content (OTT platforms) to comply with existing legal provisions while organising conclaves or summits.

“It has been brought to the notice by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare that in a recently organized Business Summit in New Delhi by a prominent media house, the forum was apparently used to promote electronic cigarettes.

“Such an action was in violation of Section 4 of the Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage and Advertisement) Act, 2019 which prohibits advertisements that directly or indirectly promote the use of electronic cigarettes.

“The Print, Electronic and Digital Media entities are accordingly advised to ensure that the aforementioned statute is not contravened either by way of advertisement or any promotion or other campaigns etc,” the MIB said in its advisory.

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