IMPACT Exclusive: Discovery - Innovating as it moves forward

Discovery is not just making great strides, but looking far beyond its current footprint as it sets its sights on connecting with the next generation, as Anurag Batra discovers in a conversation with Discovery Networks International CEO and President, Mark Hollinger.<br /> <a href=;News_id=42148&amp;Tag=34642><b>Satisfying the Curiosity of Young Indians</b></a>

e4m by Rishi Vora
Published: May 17, 2011 3:22 PM  | 8 min read
IMPACT Exclusive:  Discovery - Innovating as it moves forward

In a recent gathering in New York, I had found myself surrounded by people I had grown to admire over the last many years. Some for just the sheer success story they stand for and some for the way they have led charge of businesses they have been responsible for. Some of these names included the likes of Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman and Billy Ray Cyrus, and other names were the likes of David M Zaslav, (President and CEO, Discovery Communications). By now, you will have realised that I was at a Discovery event, one of the few companies that I hold in high regard for its vision and futuristic thought process. And you can also figure how every conversation one could have in such a gathering would have been an experience by itself.

But the one person I was “upfronted” with, was the man who is going to shape Discovery’s international presence – Mark Hollinger, President and CEO, Discovery Networks International. A lawyer by profession – I thought it was quite a coincidence that Zaslav too is a lawyer by profession – Hollinger is a 20-year Discovery veteran. He is responsible for the strategic development and daily operations of Discovery’s international division that distributes 23 media brands to over one billion subscribers in more than 180 countries. Being there, I did not think it was as easy as it sounds, but Mark makes it looks simple. For him, it is creating something on a strong foundation and then growing it in various directions but backed by strong strategies and thought process.

There is no doubting that Discovery has been very innovative in the way it views creation of media brands. Take the example of OWN – Oprah Winfrey Network, which is Discovery’s newest Network that launched on January 1, 2011 in the US. OWN replaced Discovery Health. This multi-platform JV between Winfrey and Discovery also has, and I was informed that it has already made quite a place for itself right from launch. The other new from Discovery this year, which I thought was very fascinating, was 3Net – a JV between Discovery, Sony and IMAX, leading to a 3D Network that debuted in February 2011. This is another first of its kind, and I would be very keen to see how this shapes the face of media offering to the new age viewers.

Only last year, Discovery had partnered with Hasbro to launch children’s network The Hub. The proposition took forward Discovery Kids network. One reason I chose to highlight these three of Discovery’s latest initiatives because I think the company’s route of collaboration and partnership in itself presents a forward looking proposition. We have not seen them take that route in India yet, as Discovery is still unleashing its international arsenal of offerings and even as I write this, I hear the channel has applied for licenses to five more channels in India. But for Hollinger, the targets are high. Despite Discovery’s India presence, he said, “We are in a good place in India but I don’t think we have done enough and we can do more. This is one of our key markets and we are keen to invest more in this market.”

India as a content marketplace presents challenges to a player like Discovery that makes significant revenues from the likes of on-demand and pay content in its other key markets. Hollinger observed, “The Indian market is such that you don’t get money for content yet, so you have to monetise the audiences you can aggregate. The Indian revenue team has done very well but distribution and advertising sales will drive investments.”

The one question that I think everyone in India either asks or thinks of asking to a media owner such as Discovery is whether, given the strength of the channel and the Network in India, can one expect the channel to dabble with other genres, may be even the general entertainment genre? After all, Discovery too is known for its ability to tell a story. Tell a story, it will, but not a scripted one. “Scripts are minimal on our channel,” asserted Hollinger, and as I speak to him more, I understand general entertainment is also known as scripted entertainment. He added though, “Indian market is very big on fiction, and we are always looking at aspects like these but our core strength is non-fiction and we want to take that forward in the markets we are focussed on.”

One unique advantage for a company like Discovery is that its content is global, and has a universal appeal. In some cases, a relevant dubbing is enough to make a show as interesting to a viewer in India, as it would be to a viewer in China or United States. However, that has not hindered Discovery’s view on “local”. In fact, local is a word that featured quite a bit in my conversation even with Zaslav. “We are not an expat driven company,” Zaslav had said on the subject, adding, “We have local business leaders and we understand the importance of local languages. Indian has 42 main languages and with our language customisation infrastructure, we are already available in English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.” I should add here, Discovery has now also launched a Bengali feed. Content is something that the channel invests in whole-heartedly, just the visual imagery alone makes a lot of difference to Discovery’s content proposition.

I had to ask this, NGC is a strong competitor in India and now AETN is set to launch and with a powerful group like Network18. What does this mean for Discovery? “It is good that the genre is expanding and these are strong competitors. It would be foolish to say it would not impact us. Over time, that happens when new channels come in. But we feel good about our position in marketplace and we have much more to offer in India. So that is going to be our focus,” Hollinger puts across, speaking like a man who knows his market.

He reminded me that Discovery has a history in India, the company has knowledge of the market, it has local talent and a great foundation. In Discovery’s overall scheme, India features in the top three to five markets and once again that means that Discovery will continue to build on its present strategies in India and make its presence in the market larger. Some of the other countries of focus for Discovery are Brazil and Europe. Giving an example here of how big India is for Discovery, Hollinger also informed that in September 2011, Discovery’s management team that would comprise the top 30 leaders of the company would be meeting in Jaipur. I have been told this was the first time Zaslav would be coming to India – about time, I would say!

The other area where Discovery hopes to focus more in India is the kids segment. Being a father of two myself, I know that the channel has the kind of content that parents in India would want their children to view because it is a form of extended education. Hollinger realises this too and he cited Discovery’s international initiatives like Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, which is premier science competition for middle schoolers, designed with the intention to cultivate the next generation of great thinkers and innovators. He said, “Discovery Education has content tailored for schools and there would be video streaming in schools in US going forward. This is still underdeveloped in India but we are exploring ways of how we can take this to India.”

In fact, this aspect of Discovery’s content offering is in line with its philosophy of satisfying curiosity, which is something that Zaslav was mentioning in our conversation. He said, “Co-viewing is of great significance for a channel like Discovery and we factor this in the kind of content we want on the channel. Discovery Kids is on these lines. Even a TLC is on this line, it is a shared viewing experience. Which is why content has to be translatable, and we feel more connected to those countries, where we have achieved this like in India.”
Being an avid Discovery channels consumer myself, I can tell you that Discovery does have a strong proposition in India. There is the perception that Discovery, Nat Geo, Animal Planet are very similar to a consumer of this content, and perhaps that is challenge Discovery needs to factor in its communication in India but I also believe that given the aggression seen from the company in the last couple of years, we can expect a lot more action as we move forward.

Click Here to read complete report in the IMPACT issue.

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TRAI releases pre-consultation paper for inputs on ‘National Broadcasting Policy’

Written comments have been invited from the stakeholders by October 10, 2023

By e4m Staff | Sep 21, 2023 3:44 PM   |   5 min read


The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has issued a pre-consultation paper asking inputs for formulation of "National Broadcasting Policy". 

TRAI has shared that in line with the existing National Digital Communications Policy – 2018, the possible structure of ‘National Broadcasting Policy’ may be as follows- Preamble, Vision, Mission and Objectives. The authority said that against each objective, possible goals and the probable strategies for achieving those goals needs to be identified. 

According to TRAI, the policy is required to address the broadcasting sector in a comprehensive manner. It should deal with all the aspects related to content certation, content delivery/ distribution, assimilation, introduction of new technologies and role of different institutions for the growth of the sector. It has to appropriately look into aspects of capacity building, skilling, future institutional framework etc. An analysis of global best practices may also help in defining various aspects of the policy. 

TRAI also mentioned that at this stage, it is important to identify the broad issues for consideration/ comments. While a comprehensive list of issues will be worked out after receipt of comments and stakeholder interactions, following broad contours may require to be inter-alia included/ addressed in the proposed policy: 


  1. Ensuring affordable and universal reach of Broadcasting
  2. Establishing India as a global Content Hub: a. Creation of global content in India b. Promoting Indian content globally c. Establishing/ enhancing institutional capacity for content creation or processing.
  3. Developing state-of-the-art R&D infrastructure for broadcasting sector in India. Enabling Next Generation Technologies and Services through Investments, Innovation, Indigenous Manufacturing. Leveraging Artificial Intelligence, Big Data and cloud services technologies. Separate fund for R&D and establishment of Centre for Excellence for Broadcasting sector.
  4. Capacity Building and Promoting Skill Development for broadcasting Sector in India. Training/ Re-skilling human resources for building New Age Skill. Promoting IndustryAcademia-Government partnerships to develop capacity and skills in line with future technological needs.

Broad Issues for Consideration

  1. Public Service Broadcasting in India
    a) Requirement, Relevance and Review b) Support and Validation c) Content Priority d) Mandatory Sharing of television programmes e) Enhance global reach 

2. Policy and Regulation

Simplifying policy & regulatory framework and adopt coherent and modernized approach for different types of Broadcasting services: o Satellite Broadcasting o Terrestrial television Broadcasting o Radio Broadcasting o Print media o Digital Media • An intermediary • Publisher of online curated content

3.  Other Specific Issues for comments / suggestions: 

a) Promotion of Local Content: Enhancing and incentivizing demonstration of India’s rich and diverse cultural heritage through television programmes including festivals, music, dance, art, literature, food, education, sports and more for cultural preservation and expansion. 

b)Piracy and Content Security: Putting in place framework for systematic and legal redressal for piracy and copyright. To devise a multi-layer framework of security to address cyber attacks, hacking by vested interests and other security issues. To enable measures for location-free access and transmission of programmes for broadcasting sector using cloud storage.

c). Technology Innovation & Standardization: To promote conducive environment for experimentation and innovations in the space of broadcasting technology. Establishing a broadcasting Standard Development Organization as an autonomous body with effective participation of the government, industry, R&D centres, service providers, and academia to drive consensus regarding standards to meet national requirements including security needs and interoperability to avoid ewaste. 

d) Separate Regulatory Authority for Broadcasting: Currently Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regulates the Television Broadcasting Sector. TRAI regulates both the Telecommunications and the Broadcasting sector. It is understood that stakeholders have made submissions for having a specific regulator for Broadcasting sector. Accordingly, it is to explore the need for a separate regulator for broadcasting services and if yes, the suggested statutory and organisational structure of such regulator.

e)Robust grievance redressal mechanism: Ensuring adherence to Program Code and Advertisement Code. Establishing effective institutional mechanisms to protect consumers’ interests including Ombudsman and centralized web-based complaint redressal system. 

f) Role of Broadcasting during Disaster: Framing and enforcing standard operating procedures to be followed during disasters and natural calamities, including sectoral guidelines for disaster response and recovery. Broadcasting to be used as rapid dissemination of early warning disaster notifications. viii. Audience Measurement System: Essential to ensure transparent and credible audience measurement system. Framing of guiding principles for viewership rating framework in India.

Animation, Visual Effects, Gaming and Comics (AVGC) segment: Develop, support and unleash the scope and reach of AVGC sector in India to become a torch bearer of “Create in India” and “Brand India”.

In a letter dated July 13, 2023, MIB has requested TRAI to give its considered inputs under Section 11 of the TRAI Act, 1997 for formulation of the National Broadcasting Policy. In its letter, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) has mentioned that the broadcast policy needs to identify the vision of a functional, vibrant and resilient broadcasting sector which can project India's diverse culture and rich heritage and help India's transition to a digital and empowered economy. 

“In the light of the potentialities and intersection with national goals, a National Broadcasting Policy stipulating the vision, mission, strategies and the action points could set the tone for a planned development and growth of the Broadcasting sector in the country in the era of new and emerging technologies,” said MIB. 

TRAI said that with this background, a pre-consultation is being done with all the stakeholders to elicit the issues which are required to be considered for formulation of "National Broadcasting Policy". TRAI said that written comments on the pre-consultation paper are invited from the stakeholders by October 10, 2023. 


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Include distributor bouquet pricing autonomy issue in consultation paper: MIB to TRAI

The ministry has asked the regulator to consider AIDCF's request for allowing TV distributors the autonomy to break broadcast bouquets

By e4m Staff | Sep 20, 2023 8:43 AM   |   1 min read


The MIB has sought inclusion of the issue of granting autonomy to TV distributors in bouquet formation in a TRAI consultation paper, media networks have reported.

The consultation paper titled "Review of Regulatory Framework for Broadcasting and Cable Services" was released on August 8.

The ministry has written to the TRAI Secretary to consider AIDCF's request for allowing TV distributors the autonomy to break broadcast bouquets.

As per a report, TRAI's legal team is studying the MIB letter and is set to decide after consideration of the legal opinion.

In November last year, TRAI came out with the third amendment in the tariff order, putting a ceiling of Rs 19 per TV channel for inclusion in bouquet among other provisions. Issues have been raised on the order by distribution platform operators (DPOs) and local cable operators (LCOs). Some were addressed and some still remained.




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Demand immediate withdrawal of boycotting 14 prominent TV anchors: Supriya Prasad

The Broadcast Editors Association held an emergency meeting of members against the decision of the opposition alliance

By e4m Staff | Sep 19, 2023 10:27 PM   |   1 min read

supriya prasad

An emergency meeting of members of the Broadcast Editors Association, the apex body of editors of national and regional television news channels across the country, was held on September 19.

Under the chairmanship of Supriya Prasad, News Director of 'Aaj Tak', 'Good News Today' and 'India Today', several resolutions were passed unanimously in this meeting held at India Today Group Mediaplex located at FC-8 in Film City Sector 16A, Noida. .

At the meeting, the Broadcast Editors Association condemned the recent decision of the opposition alliance 'Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance' (I.N.D.I.A.) to boycott 14 prominent TV anchors. The Broadcast Editors Association said,”By taking such a decision, the opposition alliance has not only put the lives of our journalists and anchors at risk, but has also displayed intolerance. We demand immediate withdrawal of this list keeping in mind the well-established democratic principles.”

In this meeting, President of 'Broadcast Editors Association' Supriya Prasad, Rahul Kanwal, Amitabh, Navika Kumar, Sanjeev Paliwal, Rajneesh Ahuja, Aishwarya Kapoor, Abhishek Kapoor, Deepak Chaurasia, Sukesh Ranjan, Sumit Awasthi, Rubika Liaquat, Amish Devgan, Anil Singh. Many well-known journalists including Sant Prasad Rai, Sanjay Bragta, Sudhir Chaudhary, Gaurav Sawant and Snehanshu Shekhar participated.

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BEA calls ‘urgent’ meet to discuss reports of I.N.D.I.A CM stopping ads on some channels

The meet will be held tomorrow

By e4m Staff | Sep 18, 2023 6:38 PM   |   1 min read


Broadcast Editors' Association (BEA) has called for an “urgent” meeting to discuss reports that 11 chief ministers who are part of the I.N.D.I.A alliance are considering to stop advertising on some TV channels that they believe are pro-BJP.

The BEA's General Body meeting is scheduled to be held on Tuesday, 19th September, 2023 at 14:00 hrs at India Today Group Mediaplex.

“The recent decision of India Alliance to boycott certain journalists forced us to meet on urgent basis.  Therefore, this meeting is called on very short notice,” stated an invite sent out by BEA President Supriya Prasad.

The agenda of the meeting, according to the invite, is: to discuss election for the new executive committee of BEA, to discuss ban on few Journalists by INDIA and any other issue with the permission of the President.



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Broadcasters can now access Respondent Level Data weekly by paying Rs 15 lakh per annum

The data will be released every Thursday

By Naziya Alvi Rahman | Sep 18, 2023 6:07 PM   |   2 min read


After a month-long wait, BARC on Monday evening finally fixed the price for Respondent Level Data at Rs 15 lakh per annum for the broadcasters. The news has been shared with exchange4media by highly placed sources in the industry.

As of now, only agencies have access to Respondent Level Data at a cost of Rs 60 lakh per annum. exchange4media had earlier reported that BARC was planning to make the Respondent Level Data available to broadcasters at a more reasonable price compared to what agencies pay for it. Suggestions for the price at which the data should be made available to broadcasters was shared with the BARC board members for approval last week.

The details of the price were shared by BARC with broadcasters on Monday evening.

In a letter written to broadacsters, BARC said Respondent Level Data (RLD) will be made available weekly to broadcasters, starting with the data of Week 40, on 12th October 2023.

“BARC India is pleased to announce that Respondent Level Data (RLD) will be made available weekly to Broadcasters, starting with the data of Week 40, on 12th October 2023. Like the currency data, RLD will also be released every Thursday by 2 PM to subscribers of this data,” it stated.

“The RLD provided will adequately be anonymised to maintain the integrity of panel homes, not include OOH data and have Individual level data but not Household level information,” read the letter.

The letter further stated:

RLD is the final validated viewership and has demographic details of each panellist which is aggregated in YUMI in order to produce the final published audience estimates. The data enables end-users to link a particular panellist, or group of panellists, to understand how their viewing may have evolved over time with respect to a channel, or their competition. This will be possible since they will have the ability to view the viewership details, panellist by panellist, at a minute-by-minute level.

The individual level RLD will be released simultaneously in three component parts every week:

1. Demographic Files - which provide a unique anonymised ID for each panellist along with their demographics and the daily weights which they have been assigned.

2. Viewership File - which provides for each panellist their viewing for each day of the week, in particular, which channels were viewed and at what times of the day.

3. Playout File- which provides the playout data for each channel across all minutes of the week (as it currently appears in YUMI).

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Cricket World Cup to generate Rs 20-22bn in ad rev on TV/digital platforms: Karan Taurani

According to Taurani, the digital revenues for CWC may prop significantly this year

By e4m Staff | Sep 18, 2023 5:33 PM   |   5 min read


Market research company Elara Capital has released a Consumer Discretionary report on the upcoming Cricket World Cup. According to Karan Taurani, Senior VP, Elara Capital, one can expect the tournament to generate Rs 20-22bn in ad revenue on TV/digital platforms combined. Taurani states that the digital revenues for CWC may prop significantly this year.


Here are excerpts from the report.

Consumption to wax with Cricket World Cup

Favourable timings to boost viewership

India is hosting the Cricket World Cup (CWC) after 12 years (through 5 October-19 November 2023). For the first time, India will host all the matches solo – Earlier, other Asian nations have co-hosted with India. Favourable timings (matches will begin at 10:30 IST/14:00 IST) may boost consumption of the property on TV/digital platforms. Expect the CWC to generate INR 20-22bn in ad revenue on TV/digital platforms combined. And digital revenues for CWC may prop significantly this year as: 1) timings are favourable (viewers may watch the first half of the match on OTT) and 2) CWC will be available free for all mobile users on Disney+ Hotstar app. In terms of TV advertising, expect a 6% CAGR versus the prior edition of the CWC in CY19. For the digital medium, CAGR may touch 21% versus 2019 levels.

Consumer discretionary – Win-win proposition

The CWC may positively impact online food ordering for aggregators such as Zomato/Swiggy. Through 2019 and prior world cups, JUBI alone saw a boost in SSSG (higher SSSG growth of ~3% in the CWC quarter) due to best experience offered in food delivery. But this time, expect other categories – burgers, fried chicken and biryani – to perform well, led by higher penetration of online aggregators, and likely replication of JUBI’s delivery experience. Also, pizza may see significant demand (preferred by large groups). But the segment is highly fragmented with many competitors in the fray, which may dampen prospects of a big delta/advantage for JUBI in this CWC. QSR/food tech companies may see a positive impact of 6-8% (2%-3% higher quarterly growth in Q3FY24) from higher orders during the CWC (six weeks). The alcobev industry may see a boost in consumption as beer volumes have an on-premise share of ~30% – Premium beer such as Corona, Heineken, Bira and Budweiser could see strong growth. Within spirits, scotch whiskey and upper prestige could see a boost in volume growth due to higher on premise share (~40%). We estimate positive impact of 4%/6% (1.5%-2% higher quarterly growth in Q3FY24) for overall whiskey/beer volumes in October-November due to the CWC. Bars/pubs may see better occupancy, which may positively impact alcobev volume growth in Q3FY24.

TV advertising (non-cricket) may be strained

In the past year, many consumer tech companies (edtech, fintech, foodtech and e-commerce) have shifted focus to profitability, thus curtailing ad spends. This has hurt the market as regards ad spend growth on TV/digital. These verticals have not yet made a come-back in terms of larger ad budgets, and the market is depending on larger, traditional verticals such as FMCG, Auto and Telecom. Expect TV ad spends for GEC-based players – Zee Entertainment Enterprises (Z IN) and Sun TV (SUNTV IN) – to see a mild strain in Q3FY24, due to spends being diverted to cricket. But the positive impact from the festival season may largely offset this hit. The mix of advertisers has also changed – from new-age plays to traditional verticals – which has hit the overall pricing (sports and GEC). ZOMATO, UBBL, DEVYANI, WLDL and UNSP seem to be the key beneficiaries from the overlap between the WC and the festive season which will boost overall consumption.

Cricket World Cup adex

CWC 2023E to yield 20% more TV adex than 2019

The upcoming CWC may generate at least 20% more in TV adex than it did in 2019. Sports advertising revenue has witnessed a CAGR of ~20% in CY15-22. And for 2023 CWC, advertising yields are at a mild premium vs 2019 pricing levels, indicating that the same pricing structure is being maintained. Most International Cricket Council (ICC) event sponsors are Indian brands and have committed substantial investments.

Digital adex: CWC 2023E to grow at least 70% versus CWC 2019

In contrast, digital adex for 2023E CWC may likely grow at least 70% more than the prior editions led by: 1) favorable timings (viewers may watch the first half of the match on OTT), 2) CWC will be available free for all mobile users on Disney+ Hotstar app and 3) better growth in digital advertising versus traditional media. CWC 2023 may see a similar growth as in digital ad spends during the Indian Premier League (IPL) in 2023. While the absolute value of digital advertising may not be as high as TV advertising, the growth rate may be higher. Cricket has gained popularity on digital platforms, and lower advertising prices on digital channels have allowed many brands to participate. In 2019 CWC, digital advertising-led revenue ranged within INR 4,000-INR 5,000mn. Asia Cup may generate TV adex within INR 3,000-INR 4,000mn.

Consumption boost during CWC

Sales/volume growth higher in CWC quarter Consumer Discretionary, especially Food & Beverages and Alcobev, has seen a correlation with the past two CWCs (in 2015/2019). Per our findings, SSSG/volume growth in the CWC quarter surpassed the annual SSSG/volume growth in the past two CWCs. JUBI’s annual SSSG dipped 4.5% YoY in FY15 whereas in the CWC quarter, the SSSG rose 6.6% YoY. In 2019 CWC quarter too, JUBI’s SSSG was much higher at 4.5% YoY versus an annual average SSSG of 1.7% YoY in FY20. For Alcobev, the delta was visible (on high ‘on-premise’ growth) more for beer – UBBL’s annual volume pared 4.2% YoY in FY20 but volume grew 5.6% YoY in CWC quarter.

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Avinash Pandey re-elected as NBDA President

MV Shreyams Kumar re-elected as Vice President and Anuradha Prasad Shukla too will continue as Honorary Treasurer of NBDA for the year 2023-24

By e4m Staff | Sep 18, 2023 4:44 PM   |   1 min read

Avinash Pandey

Avinash Pandey, CEO of ABP Network, has been re-elected the President of the News Broadcasters & Digital Association (NBDA).

According to sources, there is no change in the management. MV Shreyams Kumar, Managing Director of Mathrubhumi Printing & Publishing Co. Ltd., has been re-elected as Vice President, and Anuradha Prasad Shukla, Chairperson-cum-Managing Director, News24 Broadcast India Ltd., will continue as Honorary Treasurer of NBDA for the year 2023-24.

The election process was followed by the new office-bearers having lunch with MIB Secretary Apurva Chandra.  

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