BBC launches international anti-disinformation initiative

The Beyond Fake News project will be launched on November 12.

exchange4media Staff 1 week ago


The BBC will be launching Beyond Fake News project on November 12 with the release of findings from original BBC research into how and why disinformation is shared. Around the globe, disinformation has been seen to cause social and political harm, with people having less trust in the news, or in some cases being subjected to violence or death as a result. The BBC’s Beyond Fake News project aims to fight back with a major focus on global media literacy, panel debates in India and Kenya, hackathons exploring tech solutions and a special season of programming across the BBC’s networks in Africa, India, Asia Pacific, Europe, the USA and Central America. 

The research comes after users gave the BBC unprecedented access to their encrypted messaging apps in India, Kenya, and Nigeria. 

The Beyond Fake News media literacy programme has already begun delivering workshops in India and Kenya. It draws on the BBC’s pioneering work to tackle disinformation in the UK, where digital literacy workshops have also been delivered to schools across the country.    

Talking about the project, Jamie Angus, Director of the BBC World Service Group, says, “In 2018, I pledged that the BBC World Service Group would move beyond just talking about the global fake news threat, and take concrete steps to address it. Poor standards of global media literacy, and the ease with which malicious content can spread unchecked on digital platforms mean there’s never been a greater need for trustworthy news providers to take proactive steps. We have put our money where our mouth is and invested in real action on the ground in India and in Africa.” 

“From funding in-depth research into sharing behaviours online, to rolling out media literacy workshops globally, and by pledging to bring BBC Reality Check to some of the world’s most important upcoming elections, this year we’re carving our path as a leading global voice for spotting the problems, and setting out ambitious solutions,” Angus said.

The Beyond Fake News Season

Fake or real, truth or lie, transparent or deliberately misleading - how can you tell the difference? And what can you do about it to help build trust?  These are the problems the BBC explores in the Beyond Fake News season. This season will include Fake Me, a documentary revealing how far young people will go in pursuit of social media perfection, as well as the in-depth story of what happened when WhatsApp turned one Indian village into a lynch mob. There will also be reports on Russia’s disinformation campaign, how Facebook is being exploited in the Philippines to spread false information, and a debate with the world’s big four tech firms on what role they play in stemming the spread of fake news.  The season brings stories from across the world on TV, radio and online drawing on the expertise of the BBC’s international network of journalists. 

Programmes & Documentaries
•    Global: From Delhi, 12th – 15th November 

Matthew Amroliwala takes BBC World News’ Global on the road through India, exploring what happens in a world where fake news goes viral, and trust is the victim. He’ll be talking to tech giants, politicians, school children and Bollywood actors.

•    Beyond Fake News – Tech Giants, 12th & 17th, 18th November

The tech giants Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and Google are brought together to discuss the fake news crisis and the roles their platforms play in the problem, and the solution. Matthew Amroliwala hosts.

•    The She Word: Fake Me, 10th November  

From Insta-face to jeeps and bling to full-on faking it, millennials in Africa are living on ‘likes’ as the social media world expands, sometimes going to extreme lengths to clock up the clicks. Using the Instagram look, the content, the followers and the tech to transform her online profile, BBC challenges one Kenyan student, a 21-year-old social media ‘virgin’, to go from private to public, and see if she can fake it - in just five days.

•    BBC Click: Kosovo’s Fake News Factories, 10th November 

Eighteen months ago Kosovo's fake news factories were running at full steam - fuelled by the country's excellent connectivity and its young tech-savvy population with few other job opportunities. Since then, Facebook has been aggressively targeting such operations. We go back to see how successful this crackdown has been and how the fake news game has changed.

•    “Deepfake” video manipulation, 14th November  

When you’re not always seeing what you think you are - Matthew Amroliwala picks up new languages the easy way, but not without a little help from “Deepfake” software programmes that turn fiction into reality, making ‘fake video’. This technology could present opportunity for but also dangers. 

•    Explainer: Why a Fake News story spreads, 12th November  

How does fake news get onto your feed? Zoe Kleinman explores how fake news goes viral, the role of social network algorithms in its spread and how automated bots push false stories to millions. How easily are legitimate publishers tricked into repeating false news, and why are we the public so willing to share stories we see on social media?

Special Reports 
       India/Asia Pacific 
•    An interactive data project mapping the violence fuelled by false rumours in India 

From the BBC India team in Delhi, they have scraped hundreds of newspapers to compile data on violence and lynchings driven by social media and messaging apps in India.

•    What happened when WhatsApp turned one Indian village into a lynch mob, 12th November   

The story of Nilotpal and Abhishek. Mini-documentary on two men lynched after rumours on WhatsApp suggested they were child abductors.

•    The people behind the spread of fake news in India, 12th November 
The BBC’s Vineet Khare meets some of the people behind the Facebook pages and websites accused of spreading fake news across India.

•    Thailand’s victims of fake news “law”, 13th November

Four years after the military coup, Thailand may return to democracy with an election next year. But political activity is still limited and critics are being increasingly threatened with cyber security laws that often use the "fake news" crutch and carry prison sentences. For the BBC's Beyond Fake News season, the South Asia correspondent Jonathan Head meets people who are facing legal threats for speaking out against the military government.

•    Fake news and the Philippines, 12th November

Howard Johnson travels to the remote archipelago of Batanes to understand how supporters of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos have been exploiting Facebook to spread fake news and help his family stage a political comeback.

•    Somalia: Media freedom under attack, 12th November  

Somalia is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist and media outlets are being closed down for publishing information, or what their critics call ‘fake news.’ As part of the Beyond Fake News season, Fergal Keane reports on the fallout.

•    BBC Africa Eye – new investigation, 13th November

BBC Africa Eye will broadcast its latest investigation.

•    Debunking Russia’s ‘information noise’ operations, 12th November

A lab in Tbilisi has been using untested lethal drugs to experiment on Georgian citizens, the Russian Defence Ministry announced last month. But the claims were false - aimed at distracting attention away from Moscow's involvement in the Skripal poisoning and embarrassing revelations about a failed Russian cyber-attack on the global chemical weapons watchdog (OPCW) in the Hague. Steve Rosenberg visits the lab for our Beyond Fake News season, and looks at how Russia uses fake news to spread disinformation.

Middle East
•    How a fake news law is being used to crack down on dissent in Egypt, 14th November

Five months ago, Egyptian actress Amal Fathy logged on to Facebook and posted a video alleging that she had been assaulted by Cairo police officers. Two days later she was in jail, accused of “spreading false news”. Fathy, who was later sentenced to two years in prison, is the latest in a growing list of Egyptian dissidents prosecuted under the government’s new fake news laws. Sally Nabil looks at the effect of the crackdown and how US rhetoric around fake news is being abused as a powerful tool of repression abroad.

•    Mexico lynching report, 12th November

Two innocent men are pulled from a jail house by a mob and burned in the street after WhatsApp rumours warning of child abductors - a report on how fake news can grip a small town where violent crime goes unpunished.

Also showing as part of the season:
•    “Operation Infektion”, 11th November 

Operation Infektion, by the New York Times, is an enthralling history of fake news, or what the KGB used to call, “active measures.” With testimony from former Russian spies and US officials, the film deconstructs some of the most successful “fake news” operations of recent times, from the 1980s lie that Aids was created by the CIA, to the so called pizzagate conspiracy during the last Presidential election. This is disinformation warfare laid bare.

•    From Our Own Correspondent, 12th November

From Our Own Correspondent will be bringing its mix of stories, insight and analysis to Delhi for a special edition of the programme presented by Anu Anand. Reporters in the region will reflect on what’s real and what’s not.  

•    BBC World Questions: Delhi, 14th November

BBC World Questions will host a debate in Delhi allowing the public audience the chance to put their questions directly to a panel of politicians and opinion formers. With support from the British Council, the programme visits a different city around the world each month, and provides a public forum for open debate and an opportunity to explore claim and counter claim in front of an audience.  

•    Why Factor:  The Fact Checkers, 12th November

Sandra Kanthal will speak with fact checkers from Turkey, the Philippines and Brazil to find out what motivates them to combat fake news, especially in countries where speaking truth to power comes with considerable risk.   How do they do this difficult job, and why are they so determined to improve the skills all of us can use to call out false claims?  


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Our loss to see a committed and beloved leader leave: Sudhanshu Vats on Raj Nayak's exit

I feel energised about the opportunity to do something new in this new landscape, says Raj Nayak

exchange4media Staff 4 hours ago


After Raj Nayak’s decision to step down from his role as COO Viacom18, Sudhanshu Vats, Group CEO and MD Designate, Viacom18, has said that it is a “loss for the company to see a committed and capable leader leave.” Nayak, meanwhile, said that his tenure at Viacom18 has been most exciting, challenging and rewarding.  

“Raj is one of the most admired leaders in the media and entertainment industry. While on one hand, it is our loss to see a committed and capable leader leave, on the other, it is reassuring to know that he will always keep Viacom18’s flag flying high. On a personal level, I would like to thank Raj for partnering me as Viacom18 scaled newer heights. On behalf of everyone at Viacom18, I’d like to wish Raj all the very best for his future endeavours,” said Vats.

Speaking about his journey Nayak said, “The last seven and a half years at Viacom18 have been most exciting, challenging and rewarding. I have a wonderful team and they helped propel the company to new heights. The Viacom18 leadership has always been supportive and for that, I will always be grateful. These are exciting times for the media industry, the pace of change is remarkable, and I feel energised about the opportunity to do something new in this new landscape.”

Nayak will be serving at Viacom18 till February, 2019.


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TRAI conducts Session on "New Regulatory Framework for Broadcasting & Cable Services"

The interaction was aimed at ensuring smooth implementation of the new regulatory framework as per prescribed timelines

exchange4media Staff 9 hours ago


In keeping with regulating Telecom & Broadcasting Services, mainly driven by the objective of protecting the interests of service providers and consumers, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recently conducted a half-day Interactive Session on "New Regulatory Framework for Broadcasting & Cable Services" at New Delhi. 

TRAI has played an important role in shaping the regulatory and policy framework governing the sector by making timely interventions through regulations, tariff orders, directions and recommendations to the Government. 

Dr. R.S. Sharma, Chairman, TRAI, while welcoming all the participants highlighted the benefits of the new regulatory framework in broadcasting sector and said, "Transparency, Non-discrimination, Protection of Consumer interest and enabling orderly growth of the sector remain the core philosophy of new framework."

H. Pradeep Rao, Member TRAI, S.K. Gupta Secretary TRAI and other senior officers were present in the interactive session. In his presentation, S.K. Gupta focussed on the benefits that the new framework is likely to bring to consumers. He also shared that the new framework is a result of wide-ranging consultations and balances the interests of various service providers.

The Cable TV sector has been digitized pursuant to notification no. 2120 dated November 11, 2011, issued by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The phase wise digitization of the Cable TV sector has been completed in March 2017.

In consonance with digitization, TRAI notified new regulatory framework on March 3, 2017:-

i. The Telecommunication(Broadcasting and Cable) Services (Eighth) (Addressable Systems) Tariff Order, 2017

ii. The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Interconnection (Addressable Systems) Regulations, 2017

iii. The Telecommunication (Broadcasting and Cable) Services Standards of Quality of Service and Consumer Protection (Addressable Systems) Regulations, 2017

TRAI organized this interactive session to create awareness amongst various service providers and the consumers at large. The interaction was aimed at ensuring smooth implementation of the new regulatory framework as per prescribed timelines. The session was attended by various participants representing Consumer Advocacy Groups, Broadcasters, Distribution Platform owners, Local Cable Operators and Industry Associations.

Brief on New Regulatory Framework in Broadcasting and Cable sector November 19, 2018:

l. Digitization started in 2012 in Cable TV sector and completed by end of March 2017. The purpose of digitization was to bring in transparency and provide real choice to the consumers.

2. The previous regulatory regime was designed keeping in mind the Analogue systems. Due to digitization the regulation required a comprehensive review and overhaul.

3. These issues were looked at by TRAI from Tariff, Interconnection, and Quality of Service angles. A review exercise was carried out through multiple rounds of consultative process.

4. Broadcasters wanted freedom to price their TV channels and maximise subscription and advertising revenues.

5. In the previous regulatory regime Distribution Platform Owners (DPOs) fixed the price of channels for consumers. Broadcasters who were providing Free to Air Channels (mainly in News and Current Affairs segment) felt that Free-to-Air channels should be available to the customers without any charges.

6. DPOs used to demand heavy carriage fee for carrying new channels or channels that had lower demand. Broadcasters submitted that the carriage fee charged by the DPOs should be rationalised through regulations.

7. DPOs did not have any revenue assurance to continuously upgrade their network to provide better Quality of service to the Consumers. They submitted that they need specific revenue stream to enhance quality of service to provide better, quality to consumers.

8. Fixed deals and lack of trust plagued the industry. Sudden disconnections were common phenomenon due to failure to enter into commercial agreements. Recent disconnection of all the Sony channels by Tata Sky is one such example.

9. In the previous regime customers were forced with buying bouquets of channels thereby limiting their choice. Even the FTAs were being bundled in bouquets to enhance the uptake of bouquets.


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Distribution business needed regulation: Punit Goenka on TRAI tariff order

ZEE was the first broadcaster to publish it's rate card as per the tariff order

exchange4media Staff 16 hours ago


After a three-month-long hearing, the Supreme Court last month upheld TRAI’s tariff order. ZEE was the first broadcaster to publish its rate card as per the tariff order, even before the court verdict. One of the arguments put forth by those opposing the order was that it puts a government cap on creativity and content.

Punit Goenka, MD & CEO of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, agrees that the argument is not wrong. He believes that the “moment you start putting a price on things, it can have an impact on the economics of the business.”

“Today it doesn't have any impact on the current business model, but no regulation is there forever. Regulation adapts and changes as it goes along. So while principally I am not in favour of regulation, the current environment of the distribution business, the subscription part, needed regulation for it to become streamlined,” said Goenka.

Is there even one product in this country where pricing has been flat for 25 years or where not even inflationary growth has been seen in the content accessed by the consumers?, he asked.

“That's a flawed part of the industry. No other industry works like that. So from that perspective, regulation is required for the current scenario to get resolved. And I am sure the government will reconsider when things settle down and we will become open market.” And Goenka is confident that at some point in future subscription fees will also become open, just like advertising and content acquisition.   

But will the regulation increase pricing for consumers in some way, in case one wants to continue with the entire pack of channels? Goenka agrees.

“It will, of course. However, this system gives the consumer the option to choose the price point. From the current Rs 180 to as low as Rs 150 or as high as Rs 500, that's what the regulation offers. The basic service is Rs 130, so if the consumer is happy with the basic service tier, they can pay the basic price. Just like telecom business; I can get a service at Rs 99 or some consumers even pay Rs 500, depending on whatever quantum of services you want to use. The same thing should apply to television. Why should we be any different? If you want to use more premium content you should be willing to pay more for it,” he argued.

According to Goenka, the order, like most other regulations, will not play out overnight.

“Today they don't have that capability. But this is the same thing that happened with digitisation. Was there the capability to digitise on day one when digitisation came into force? So maybe it will take six months or maybe nine months. It's not as if suddenly on January 1 everything changes overnight. It doesn't happen that way and I don't expect this regulation to also play out that way overnight.”


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Joy Chakraborthy quits Network18

Chakraborthy was the CEO, Forbes India, and President (Revenue), Network 18 Media & Investments

Sonam Saini 1 day ago


Joy Chakraborthy, Forbes India CEO and President (Revenue), Network18 Media & Investments, resigned from his post on Monday.

The development has been confirmed to exchange4media by Network18. A media veteran, Chakraborthy joined Network18 in May 2016.   

Before Network 18, Chakraborthy worked with BCCL as Director. He has also worked with TV Today as CEO and Zee Entertainment Enterprises as Executive Director (Revenue).

A graduate from the National Defence Academy with a master's degree in marketing management from NMIMS, Chakraborthy has also done an advanced management programme from Harvard Business School.

Principal Correspondent, exchange4media, Mumbai Sonam reports on the broadcast media and Out of Home (OOH) industry. She has worked across television and cable industry, and in the past has written for travel and lifestyle magazines.


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It's time for Indian firms to compete with global players in their market: Punit Goenka

The MD & CEO of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd says he does not want to become Netflix, but wants to give them competition

Nawal Ahuja 1 day ago


Last week, Essel Group decided to undertake a strategic review of its shareholding in Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) with a view to maximise value for the business. It was decided that 50 per cent stake in ZEEL will be sold to a strategic partner. Nawal Ahuja, Co-founder of the exchange4media group, caught up with Punit Goenka, MD & CEO of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, to talk about the stake sale, possible partner, what changes will take place once a partner comes on board and much more.


Edited Excerpts:


What prompted you to go out and seek a partner to divest part of the promoters’ stake, given that you are fundamentally strong on some of the key aspects of media?


The aspirations of the family and company are to not only be a very successful South Asian diaspora media power, but go beyond the South Asians, to the global frontier. We do believe that we understand and can create content for the world if we get partners to help us in the two areas concerning technology and geographical reach. We have captured and conquered South Asians across the world and dabbled with some of the non-Indian languages in key markets like Middle East, South Africa, etc.


Our objective is to enable people to consider ZEE as a mainstream media company like a Disney or a Fox or NBC. Technology can be bought, although customising it to the consumer’s need requires a lot of effort. For instance, ZEE5 is our third attempt in the OTT world. Our first two platforms did not do as well as they should have.


If you look at companies like Apple or Netflix or Amazon… globally, they have tried to disrupt the traditional broadcast model, which has been ZEE’s stronghold for the last 25+ years. Given that, what would they see in a company like ZEE to become a partner?


The content capability of our company is not replicable in any way. Today, if you look at any media tech company operating in India, you’ll notice that they operate in a very niche market segment. They at best look at 1-2 per cent of this country because their content spread is restricted to 90-10, i.e. 90 per cent international and 10 per cent domestic. Whereas, in India, the consumption pattern of Indian consumers is their own preferred language content. Our own ZEE5 platform has 55 per cent+ content in regional languages, not just Hindi, within a short span of 6-7 months of its launch. The attractiveness of ZEE is going to be the inherent capability to create local content. Plus, ZEE5 has become the No. 2 OTT platform within six months of its launch because of the inherent value of the content that we possess and the investments we’ve made in the film libraries, etc. That’s the benefit we see.


Where does the family plan to deploy the cash? Are you looking at new business verticals? There were some talks that you might be looking at getting into the BFSI sector or launch some products there?


We are already in the BFSI sector in our SL Finance portfolio, which will be one place for us to use the capital. We want to look at other new age technology areas where we can deploy or have aspirations to expand the business. But, that’s something perhaps better explained by Dr Subhash Chandra. I am focusing on choosing the right partner and taking ZEE to the next level over the next five years.


What kind of a partner do you have in mind?


First and foremost, the most important thing is the value system. Irrespective of whether the partner has the same value system as us, as long as the meaning of what the two hold are the same, it will be critical for this partnership. It’s once-in-a-lifetime kind of a partnership that we create and therefore it’s critical for both organizations to have a similar value system. Willing to give them equal partnership with the family means that they will have equal rights, because eventually we will run this business jointly.


But the family currently heads the business operations. So what happens to that?

I value the family’s contribution and management of the business to help bring it this far. The plans for the South Asian diaspora are already in place for the next 3-5 years. I don’t see any reason why those need to be changed. They can at best be shored up, in terms of bringing those investments forward. I don’t see why a strategic partner should need to get rid of the family running the current business in its current form. But, if they choose to do that, we have a very good professional management team to run each of these verticals.


Since you are looking at expanding your global operations through this strategic investment, do you have a structure in mind?


Today, we are structured in a way that we have Punit Misra running the domestic broadcast business, and Tarun Katiyal running the ZEE5 domestic business. We will also be creating a separate structure for the global audience space, both for the broadcast and the digital piece. The broadcast piece for South Asia in the international market will be the current structure itself, because it’s a very lean operation and has not been growing significantly. Therefore, the focus will be all on the digital space for the international part.


How do you see the OTT space? Do you think that for broadcast companies, 10 years down the line, OTT is going to be bread and butter? That the majority of the broadcast companies of today will be OTT-driven tech media?


They would have to be, if they want to survive in the long term. If they want to remain only broadcasting companies, they will be at the bottom of the pyramid, because that’s where broadcasting will come down to. Whether that happens in 10 or 15 years is anybody’s guess. But the way I look at OTT, it will become the top and the middle of the pyramid, while at the bottom of the pyramid, will be broadcaster.


When you sold Ten Sports 18 months back, you made a conscious decision to stay away from sports, and one of the reasons was BCCI cricket being out of the purview. When it comes to OTT, do you think lack of sports makes a material difference?


I don’t think so. Netflix and Amazon Prime in the United States don’t have sports and they are the most successful OTT platforms in the world. The same logic applies for TV and OTT too. What is changing in OTT vs TV is that you can cater to a smaller community along with a mass community. Sports is event-driven; it brings in traffic and eyeballs at that event, but it’s not sustainable. The numbers fall off the moment the sports event is over. Plus, there’s the cost of acquisition. But it’s on the entertainment side that you have repeat customers coming every day, which is far more profitable than just having sports properties.


What is your opinion on the paper that the government has circulated on OTT content regulation?

It is largely to do with OTT services that are in direct competition with telecom service providers. So the voice and messaging OTT is being regulated. It is not covering the video part of OTT. That they are still leaving open.


Do you think at some stage, the government will be interfering there too?

I don’t know how you can exercise control in today’s environment in India where the Internet has become open. I mean, can they control Google or block porn sites? Even if they’ve shut down 300 sites that doesn’t mean that porn is not available on the Internet, right? If they had started those kind of controls 20 years ago, they would have achieved it today. But if they do it today, it will take them another 20 years to achieve that. We don’t want to create another China, which is a closed world in itself. It is not in the consumer’s best interests.


And where do you see Punit Goenka three years after the disinvetment is done?


I am tired of people telling me that companies with deep pockets have come to our country to compete with you. I want to go compete with these people wherever they are now in whatever small manner I can. I am not saying I want to become Netflix, but I am saying I want to compete with them. I have earned the right to do that. I want people to say that this is the first media company from an emerging market that has come and given us some competition. I want to make that mark.


Co-Founder - Exchange4media, bird watcher, wildlife photographer.


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"This bride has many suitors," says Dr. Subhash Chandra

Dr. Annurag Batra, Founder & Chairman of exchange4media group, in conversation with Dr. Subhash Chandra, Chairman, ZEE & Essel Group, on Zee’s plans ahead.

Annurag Batra 4 days ago


Two days ago, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) announced that its promoters will sell up to 50 per cent of their stake in the company to a strategic partner. The stake sale is being done for disruptive technological advancement and to transform the company into a media tech firm. The promoters currently hold 41 per cent stake; which means they will divest up to 20 per cent of Zee’s equity. The market is abuzz about Zee’s plans ahead. The company, which recently announced its financial results for FY18 Q2, posted a strong 24.9 per cent jump in the operating revenue in this quarter. Not just that, its OTT platform, launched earlier this year, is believed to be doing extremely well.

In the backdrop of all this, Dr. Annurag Batra, Founder & Chairman, exchange4media group, spoke to Dr. Subhash Chandra, Chairman, ZEE & Essel Group, about Zee’s plans ahead.


Dr. Chandra, you are a pioneer. You see things before anyone else sees it. So if Dr. Chandra decides to sell a part of his company to be future ready, it becomes headlines. Are you seeing something that others are not?

I definitely believe that others are not yet seeing what I can see. But I am sure they will see that slowly. I understand that it's not only this medium, but virtually every single business is going to change because of the way technological developments are happening in every single field. Even a construction company will have to rework their entire organisation and the working structure because of technology.

For example, call centres have a very simple job. My prediction is that five years from now, nobody will be working at call centres. There will be robots and machines answering calls. In the next 5-8 years, one billion people will be rendered jobless globally. So everybody has to reskill now. Even the education system should be restarted with a fresh approach. As a member of the Upper House, I am going to raise this issue. The education has to be future ready.

Tell us specifically about media content.

Coming to media again, because of augmented reality and virtual reality, there will be a convergence of mobile, computer and other screens. It will not be just an audio & video medium in future. It will be a full-fledged market. And you will get whatever you need in this marketplace.

So you are saying content will be the glue that will create commerce, and services will be distributed using mobile screens.

Right, that's exactly what will happen.

Tell us about Zee5. In the last 12 months, it has touched the 50 million-plus subscriber mark. You have said one of the reasons to do this (stake sale) is to be able to work with technology partners to go global and increase ARPUs. Let's say, if a tie-up happens in the next 6-7 months, what will be the new ZEE like? What will be different from what we have now?

We know how to make the best of content at the best of price. And this doesn't mean that the popular perception of Zee spending less on content is true. It's not true. Zee knows the expenses; the cost of equipment and the cost of artistes and studio. Our mindset and DNA is of a content maker, whereas the Netflixes and Amazons of the world, Amazon particularly, have a trading mentality.

Our people did an analysis of Netflix's Scared Games in one of the monthly presentations, and concluded that the same show with the same artistes would have been done by us 40 per cent cheaper. And yet my producer would have had 15-20 per cent growth. We have managed to do it in the international market. Today, we are running 12 foreign language services in the international market. In Germany, which is a very mature market, we already have 1.5 per cent market share with our content from India repurposed and redirected with subtitles and dubbing. We have also started producing half an hour of original Russian content and two-hour per week content in Arabic language in the Middle East. We are doing every bit.

Zee will look at the partnership to get converged into a techno media company which has a global presence, catering to American, Spanic, Brazilian and other major foreign languages. And this will include OTT.  In India, we have 500 million Zee5 subscribers and we feel we can add an equal number of people internationally with the partner. I would say we will add 100 million-plus South Asians, and in the next 7-8 years, another 400 million mainstream video watch on OTT.  So it will be an unbeatable and unparalleled media distribution company which will get the kind of value that we can never get in India.

So, are you saying that you will get listed abroad at some stage?

Yes. Why not? That’s why I am saying it will be a very different company 7-10 years from now. I can see that happening. 


There is a huge speculation about who will be your partner. Various names are going around. Would you like to share? Also, what would you look for in the partner?

I would say that this bride has many suitors. We know what we want; we want a technology partner with technology superiority and the mass & muscle to help us fulfil our dream of becoming a global media company.

The chemistry between two people doing business is very important. Have you already found this chemistry?

We have bankers; and one of them is international banker Goldman Sachs and the other is American banking advisor LionTree. So we have had this discussion. If it's American cooperation, we have to agree on a business model on the basis of what both of us expect 5-10 years from now. Once we figure that out, it's easier for this marriage to succeed. If you see our past record, we have had good partnerships.

You said American, so is it Amazon or Google?

No, I am saying that if it's American, we will have do the same exercise of agreeing on the direction again. An American cooperation would have a separate kind of expectation from future whereas a Russian company has a separate set of thinking. We have to align, and once it's done, there is no problem, particularly with Amit (Goenka) and Punit (Goenka) mostly running the company.

During discussions with me, you have always looked at two companies, Disney and Discovery.

Discovery is a traditional media company and has vast distribution globally. And I love the company for that reason. We are one step behind them in terms of the number of eyeballs globally. They have 1.5 billion and we are at 1.3 billion. On the other hand, Disney has a vast array of offering that nobody has in India. They have amusement parks, cruise ships, children programming and much more.  

What do you think about Rupert Murdoch partnering with Disney?

Their objective was that ‘I can’t fight with this big techno media company who is spending billions in programming’. But my feeling is different. He would be the single largest shareholder of Disney with 5 per cent holding and he has the right to choose the successor of Bob Iger. He is a smart businessman. To my mind, he has bought Disney rather than selling.  

What do you have to say about Jio and its strategy of buying all distribution companies?

As a telecom company, they have done really well. Even their competitors say ‘we never thought the way Jio thinks’. They admire them.

What if Mr. Ambani and Mr. Chandra come together?

You never know what would happen. I will not name any one. It's early.

Few predictions for future?

Technology will change the business. By 2055, India will become a 100-trillion dollar economy and number one globally, because the demographics are in its favour. It will surpass China and America and that will be hell of a lot for any kind of business.

(With inputs from Sonam Saini)

Annurag Batra is a serial entrepreneur, media mogul, a journalist and an eternal optimist rolled into one. He is a B. Tech in Computer Sciences, a degree, which he acquired before joining Management Development Institute MDI Gurgaon (Now its Gurugram), one of India's leading Business School. He is a first generation entrepreneur and after acquiring the iconic business media and magazine brand BW Businessworld. a 35 year strong media brand as well as most respected business publication in the country.


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Star Plus regains top spot in urban market: BARC Week 45

Zee Anmol continued to lead both overall and rural market

exchange4media Staff 5 days ago


Zee Anmol continued to lead the overall market with 812 million impressions, followed by Star Utsav on the second slot with 666 million impressions and Star Bharat on the third spot with 660 million impressions, according to Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India Week 45 data.

Zee Anmol’s Kumkum Bhagya lead the top five programme list in Week 45 with 13.1 million impressions, followed by Colors’ Naagin3 on the second slot with 12.7 million impressions. Zee Anmol’s Mahek stood on number three with 11.9 million impressions. Zee TV’s Kundali Bhagya and Kumkum Bhagya bagged fourth and fifth slots with 11.3 and 9.7 million impressions, respectively.

Hindi GEC Urban

Star Plus regained its leadership position in the urban market. The channel registered 430 million impressions and was followed by Colors on the second slot with 402 million impressions and Sony Entertainment Television on the third slot with 401 million impressions. Zee TV and Star Bharat bagged fourth and fifth spots with 387 and 315 million impressions, respectively.

Colors’ Naagin3 continued to dominate the list of top five programmes in the urban market with 8.4 million impressions. Zee TV’s Kundali Bhagya bagged the second spot with 6.8 million impressions followed by Kumkum Bhagya on the third spot with 5.6 million impressions. Star Plus’ Star Parivaar Awards 2018 and Kulfi Kumar Bajewala stood at number four and five with 5.6 and 5.1 million impressions, respectively.

Hindi GEC Rural

Zee Anmol continued to lead the rural market with 667 million impressions, followed by Star Utsav on the second spot with 467 million impressions and Sony Pal on the third with 426 million impressions. Star Bharat and Dangal TV stood on the fourth and fifth positions with 344 million and 327 million impressions, respectively.

Zee Anmol’s Kumkum Bhagya continued to lead the list of top five programmes with 11.0 million impressions followed by Mahek on the same channel at the second slot with 9.8 million impressions. Star Utsav’s Rabba Ve stood on the third spot with 5.8 and Sony Pal’s Taarak Mehta Ka OOltah Chashma on the fourth spot with 5.7 million impressions and Gutur Goon on the fifth slot with 5.6 million impressions.


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Sumit Awasthi all set to join ABP News as Consulting Editor this week

Network 18 Deputy Managing Editor Sumit Awasthi had resigned from his post in September

Abhishek Mehrotra 5 days ago


Network 18 Deputy Managing Editor Sumit Awasthi, who had resigned from his post in September this year, has completed his notice period with the channel. According to information available with exchange4media, Awasthi will join ABP News as the Consulting Editor this week itself. 

ABP News is expected to soon start airing promos of Awasthi’s new show. It is being said that Awasthi will lead the channel's coverage on the days of state election results.  

Talking about Awasthi, Avinash Pandey, COO, ABP News Network, said, "Sumit is a very reputed journalist. I have personally seen some of his work and have worked with him earlier. We are very happy that Sumit is joining ABP News soon.”

Awasthi, who started his career with Zee News, has close to 22 years of experience in the filed of journalism and has worked with some of the top media houses in the country. He is one of the well-known news anchors today and has helmed several big prime-time shows on Aaj Tak and Zee News.  

Prior to joining Network 18, Awasthi was Resident Editor at Zee News, where he served a short stint of 11 months. Awasthi has also been associated with Aaj Tak for almost five years where his last-held designation was Deputy Editor. His major forte has been in the realm of political reportage, but he has also extensively covered cricket and international affairs too. 


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We are looking to bring technology partners: Subhash Chandra on ZEEL stake sale

Essel Group plans to divest up to 50% of its stake in ZEEL

exchange4media Staff 1 week ago


Subhash Chandra-led Essel Group is looking to divest up to 50 per cent stake in the Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL). 

“It has been decided to undertake a strategic review of Essel's shareholding in ZEEL with a view to maximize value for the business. The proposed transaction to divest up to 50% of Essel's holding to such a partner, is expected to address the Essel Group's capital allocation priorities and will allow ZEEL shareholders to capture the full value of India's largest entertainment broadcaster with an ever strengthening bouquet,” the company said in a statement.

“Essel has decided to appoint Goldman Sachs Securities (India) Ltd. as their investment banker and US and European based LionTree as an international strategic advisor for this exercise,” it added.

Talking to exchange4media exclusively, Dr Subhash Chandra shared, “This is a stake sale as we are looking to bring technology partners. And as part of that, we may offload a stake. We are the leaders in the South Asia diaspora and audiences and we plan to stay like that. We are making the business even more future ready.”

The statement mentioned that Subhash Chandra and family along with its advisors met in Mumbai over the Diwali weekend to undertake a strategic review of its businesses in view of the changing global media landscape.

The strategic review underscored the importance of technological advancements such as AI, lOT, 3D printing AR, VR and more.

“There is informed recognition that the world is convergent today and the lines across media, telecom, manufacturing and technology are thinner than ever. The semi-conductor business also appeared to be a promising opportunity, but due to its large capital requirement it was ruled out. It was observed that these developments will impact virtually all businesses across sectors and business practices will be driven by technological innovation. The review showed that the family needs to accelerate efforts to stay ahead of fast changing trends,” the statement said.

The review noted that with the current 1.3 billion viewers and close to 50 million digital viewers growing at a fast pace, ZEEL is well placed to benefit from current market trends due to its strong brand and bouquet of domestic and international channels.

“Adding to that strength, ZEES will further enable the company to leverage the benefits of changing video consumption trends, contributing significantly over the coming years. The management of ZEEL under Punit Goenka and Amit Goenka has been well appreciated by all stakeholders and reflected in the performance of the company,” read the statement.

Speaking on where the business stands today, Jawahar Goel said, "Punit and Amit have made the right sustainable investments for the future and the business is growing ahead on all fronts in a focused and disciplined way." 

The statement further mentioned, “On its own, ZEEL would remain a leader in both linear and digital distribution. It has the consumer insights and knowhow to produce and deliver content for the South Asian diaspora globally. The management depth the company has built over last two decades distributing content globally in 12 foreign languages puts the company in a unique position. It has strong revenue streams including advertising and subscription - domestic and international. However, there is recognition that a right global strategic partner will help in transforming ZEEL further, and maximise long term value. It will transform it into a global media-tech player with a unique offering of content to the main stream audiences in 170 plus countries putting it into a king position globally.” 

Essel expects the outcome of the strategic review to be concluded by March/April 2019.

“We hope that this transaction will meet the objectives of the Essel Group as well as the minority shareholders of ZEEL. India remains a priority market for Subhash Chandra and the Essel Group and the family believes that India is at the cusp of significant growth. The family will continue to invest in growth opportunities in India. Regardless of the outcome of this exercise, Essel is committed to create significant long term value in ZEEL and shall keep on contributing in every possible way going forward,” the company said. 


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Zee TV replaces Star Plus as the leader in urban market: BARC Week 44

Zee Anmol continued to lead the overall and rural markets

exchange4media Staff 1 week ago


Zee Anmol continued to lead the overall market with 809 million impressions, followed by Zee TV on the second slot with 790 million impressions and Star Bharat on the third spot with 758 million impressions, according to Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) India Week 44 data.


Zee Anmol’s Kumkum Bhagya lead the top five programme list in Week 44 with 13.0 million impressions, followed by Zee TV’s Kundali Bhagya on the second slot with 12.7 million impressions and Colors’ Naagin3 on the third slot with 12.3 million impressions. Zee TV’s Kumkum Bhagya and Zee Anmol’s Mahek stood at the fourth and fifth positions with 10.8 million and 10.5 million impressions, respectively.  


Hindi GEC Urban


Zee TV replaced Star Plus at number one position in the urban market with 472 million impressions. Star Plus fell to the second spot with 450 million impressions. Sony Entertainment Television took the third spot with 421 million impressions. Colors and Star Bharat stood at the fourth and fifth spots with 416 and 365 million impressions, respectively.


Colors’ Naagin3 continued to dominate the list of top five programmes in the urban market with 8.2 million impressions. Zee TV’s Kundali Bhagya bagged the second spot with 7.6 million impressions followed by Kumkum Bhagya on the third spot with 6.3 million impressions. Star Plus’ Kulfi Kumar Bajewala and Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai stood at the fourth and fifth positions with 6.3 million and 6.1 million impressions, respectively.


Hindi GEC Rural


Zee Anmol continued to lead the rural market with 656 million impressions, followed by Star Utsav on the second spot with 473 million impressions and Star Bharat on the third with 393 million impressions. Sony Pal and Dangal TV stood on the fourth and fifth positions with 377 million and 339 million impressions, respectively.


Zee Anmol’s Kumkum Bhagya continued to lead the list of top five programmes with 10.8 million impressions followed by Mahek on the same channel at the second slot with 8.6 million impressions. Star Utsav’s Rabba Ve stood at the third spot with 6.3 and Dangal TV’s Ramayan on the fourth spot with 6.1 million impressions. Zee Anmol’s Ek Main Aur EK Tu bagged the fifth spot with 5.8 million impressions.



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