We focus on convergence of content & technology: Amit Gupta, CEO, ANMEL

Amit Gupta on the group’s plans for 2019 Lok Sabha elections, their exploration of latest technologies and much more.

Amit Gupta

Asianet News Media and Entertainment Private Ltd ( ANMEL) showed the world what responsible journalism means by the way they covered Kerala and Kodagu floods through Asianet News and Suvarna News channels. Launched in 2003, Asianet News is one of the pioneers in television journalism in Kerala and have been instrumental in shaping a clear television culture in the mind of Malayali people.  ANMEL also owns Kannada Prabha that has completed 50 years in the industry.  ANMEL’s digital initiatives include Asianet Newsable, Asianet News Telugu, and Asianet News Tamil. They recently launched a bi-lingual media tech platform, MyNation.com.

In an interaction with exchange4media, Amit Gupta, CEO,  ANMEL, spoke about the group’s plans for 2019 Lok Sabha elections, their exploration of the latest technologies and much more.

Edited excerpts:

Asianet News Media and Entertainment Private Ltd has a presence in multiple regional languages, tell us how it gives you an edge in the media world?

Asianet News Digital's phenomenal growth validates the Indic languages growth theory in digital. Our strong presence across the most affluent and vibrant Internet user communities makes us a partner of choice for users and brands alike. We aspire to expand both organically and inorganically in the space of videos & content and are in active discussions to consolidate individual language positions as well.

Asianet News is one of the first news channels that introduced mobile journalism in south India. What was the feedback you received from viewers regarding the experiments? Do you think mobile journalism is really the future of journalism?

Mobile journalism is much more effective than traditional digital media, as people are connected to social media through their mobile phones. Our followers on social media increased since the time we started mobile journalism. Surely, mobile journalism will be a big thing in the future, especially for digital media.

A recent report warns that robots and AI technology will take up to 52 per cent of human tasks by 2025. In what forms such AI and automation is going to reflect in the news business? Do you see a robot reading news or gathering news reports in the near future?

Having stellar editorial & technical teams across the board/languages is critical to our growth. Asianet News Digital is exploring the introduction of latest technologies, including AI and machine learning, in the media tech space to enhance the consumer experience. We are confident that we will bolster our position and reach pole position across languages in digital and broadcasting and create a wide chasm between us and the competitors. We are confident that FY19 will be a year of consolidating Asianet News Digital and Asianet News Media & Entertainment as a media tech entity and be a preferred choice for all key stakeholders, advertisers, employees and investors.

Asianet News Network recently launched the bi-lingual media tech platform MyNation.com as an upcoming competitor to national English and Hindi digital news segment. Please tell us your hopes about Mynation.com?

At asianetnews.com, we focus on realising the convergence of high-quality content and technology to deliver superior audience experience and engagement. We are building deep domain expertise across languages. With the launch of Mynation.com, we are focusing on premium and niche English and Hindi content. Also, English is an important language for us given our dominance in South Indian languages where English serves as a link language and is a default second language. It hence further deepens our ability to mop up advertising dollars. Mynation.com will further strengthen Asianetnews.com position across North India in digital. FY19 will be a year of consolidating asianetnews.com for advertisers and brands that work with us. With our multi-platform reach across mediums - broadcast, print, radio and digital – and expanding audience segments – national and international-, Asianet News Media & Entertainment Pvt Ltd offers advertisers and brands a significant opportunity.

Asianet News Digital platform has broken into Top 30 news information sites for mobile users. It has jumped to Rank 28 from Rank 116, as per the Comscore mobile metrics. What magic wand are you waving to make this possible? What is your Comscore target for next year? What are the new initiatives that you are taking?

Our Comscore growth is built on superior editorial content, which is based on our moto-- Straight, Bold, Relentless. We expect to grow in the coming months and be among Top 10 news information sites in the next one year.

An American TV channel’s weather forecast video about hurricane recently went viral. In the forecast, the channel, through graphic depiction on screen, showed the water coming in and also its rising levels. There is no doubt that such reports will give a rough idea of the expected water surge. Don’t you think that we need a complete restructuring of the way we present news stories today?

Yes, things are changing and evolving rapidly. While technology and graphics shall keep advancing and making the visual experience richer and riveting, the quality and the depth of the coverage and content shall always be the king. Digital media is going to push traditional media companies to up their offering in every respect and especially in tech.

Kannada Prabha has completed 50 years in the industry. How does Kannada Prabha understand and analyse the needs of the readers?

With the advent of digital mediums, news consumption pattern of the millennial population is replacing all traditional news mediums. While we are continuing to focus and develop our digital mediums, Asianet News Network believes that the relevance of print as a medium of rich and credible information shall continue to be irreplaceable. Our aim is to continue to generate and spread the pleasure and benefits of reading a newspaper among the millennials.

The 17th Lok Sabha will be elected in  2019, what election-centric programmes and plans does Asianet News Media and Entertainment Pvt. Ltd. have?

Over the last 10 years, Asianet News Networks have considerably invested in conducting pre-poll surveys to understand the mood of the nation and have been consistently accurate with the predictions. These survey predictions have been recognised and appreciated even by national news channels. We are putting together some big plans for the upcoming election season and you can look forward to multiple surveys and in-depth analysis along with some well-known commentators. We are making a huge investment in studio and technical facilities to enhance the viewer experience.

Are you planning to ramp up your regional media offerings?

Yes, asianetnews.com shall be expanding its regional media offering both organically and well-thought-through inorganic opportunities which the team is already working on.

What do you hope to accomplish in 2018-2019?

Asianet News Media & Entertainment Pvt Ltd is No. 1 vernacular media tech platform in the country poised to grow rapidly leveraging latest innovation in AI, computer vision and speech recognition tech to capture next wave of internet revolution in India for 500M new users where 9 out 10 new users will be from the vernacular segment.

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