100 Years of ABP: Building of a formidable brand

Over the years, Bengal's largest media conglomerate has also emerged as one of India’s leading media conglomerates.

e4m by exchange4media Staff
Published: Jul 9, 2022 7:40 PM  | 5 min read
ABP Network

Anandabazar Patrika on Saturday launched its centenary celebration to honour the newspaper's role in the Indian media landscape since its inception 100 years ago in the year 1922.

In his opening remarks at the Biswabangla Convention Center in Kolkata, Atideb Sarkar, Chief Editor, ABP Group said that "ABP serves ordinary Indians, not their rulers. It does so through the heroism of its people, especially in crisis."

Talking about ABP's inception, he mentioned the world events taking place in 1922 including Mahatma Gandhi's arrest during his non-cooperation movement in India, and added: "As Calcutta celebrated the festival of colours, a Bengali evening paper was first published and, in red ink, lent support to Gandhi’s cause. The British saw not the red of Doljatra but a warning of danger."

Story a formidable brand

Over the years, Bengal's largest media conglomerate has also emerged as one of India’s leading media conglomerates. 

Apart from Anandabazar Patrika, the ABP group owns English daily Telegraph; TV news channels ABP News (Hindi), ABP Ananda (Bengali), ABP Majha (Marathi), ABP Ashmita (Gujarati), ABP Sanjha (Punjabi) and ABP Ganga (Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand); besides Bengali magazines Desh, Sananda, Anandalok and Anandamela; and news websites in Hindi, Marathi, Bangla, Gujarati and Punjabi. In 2021, the company launched its latest venture, Telugu news website ABP Desam.

On July 28, 2021, ABP Private Limited announced Atideb Sarkar as the new Chief Editor and Publisher, while his father Arup Sarkar took on the new role of “nestor.”

ABP Private Limited owns the group’s print publications and 100 percent share of ABP News Network, the television wing of the group, which also owns news websites in regional languages.

The ABP Group publications evoke nostalgia among an entire generation of journalists and writers. The sports lover loved his SportsWorld, the Bengali literature lover still can’t have enough of the magazine Desh. The children’s magazine, Anandamela, is still treasured by some in dusty vaults. It is here that many of Satyajit Ray’s short stories and Feluda novels came out for the first time.

The Sarkar’s

In ABP Pvt Ltd, the shares are divided among four members of the Sarkar family: 19.5 percent is held each by Aveek Sarkar, his younger brother Arup Sarkar and wife Shithi Sarkar, and their son Atideb Sarkar. The remaining 21.9 percent shares are held by ABP Holdings Pvt Ltd, whose shares are again equally divided among the four.

Atideb Sarkar’s uncle Aveek Sarkar, who headed the group as Editor-in-Chief for over three decades till 2016, is at present the Vice-Chairman and Editor Emeritus.  

Aveek Sarkar started as an understudy to the legendary Harold Evans. He also worked for the Sunday Times. It is well-known that his Anglophilia made him model his English newspaper, The Telegraph, after the British Daily Telegraph. The Telegraph’s daily supplement, T2, which he decided to digitise a year ago, was named thus because of its eponymous British counterpart. Aveek Sarkar has also been mostly regarded as one of the most intellectual editors in India.

Atideb Sarkar, Chief Editor of ABP Group is amongst the youngest editorial leaders when it comes to large media conglomerates.

After graduating from the University of Warwick, UK, Atideb Sarkar obtained his master’s degree in economics from the University College London. He then interned at Financial Times in London for two months in 2008, he also interned for eight months on the news desk of the family-owned Telegraph.

Prior to taking on the Chief Editor's role, Atideb Sarka has mostly remained involved with the company’s business affairs, staying true to his educational background. At the ABP group, he started as a manager (finance) in 2012 and then served as a general manager (strategy) and associate vice-president (strategy), before being appointed executive director in November 2015.

At the ongoing centenary celebration, Atideb Sarkar recalled Anandabazar Patrika's glorious journey. He spoke about the newspaper’s silver jubilee coinciding with the year of India’s independence and then how the Indian press was faced with the challenge to be at the defence of its freedom by 1972. The institution celebrated its 75th anniversary when the Cold War had ended and India was reforming its economy. By this period, the group was publishing The Telegraph and was to foray into television. 

"Over the past 25 years, the group has ventured into new lands, languages and forms. Today, ABP reaches nearly 300 million Indians each month from Jammu to Kanyakumari across television, digital, print and radio," Atideb Sarkar said.

"The group’s enterprise has been matched by its heroism," he added as he went on to cite examples of ABP journalists who displayed exemplary dedication towards their call of duty over the years. 

The Chief Editor spoke about the challenges faced by the nation as well as the "sea change" witnessed in news media in the age of the internet.

"As the world changes, we will stay true to ourselves. We will continue to provide sound, independent journalism in the public interest. That means doing our work ethically and with rigour. It also entails holding the powerful to account, even in adversity," he said.

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