Interview : Ravi Prakash, CEO, Associated Broadcasting Company Pvt. Ltd
Ravi Prakash is the founder CEO of the Associated Broadcasting Company Pvt. Ltd (ABCL) – one of the fastest growing media companies in India. Under his patronage, ABCL started with a 24-hour news channel (TV9 AP) in Andhra Pradesh in 2004, and shortly became a name to reckon with. Bold and fearless, young CEO, Ravi Prakash speaks to Zain Awan about his past, present and the future plans.
Thank you for this interview. Let me begin by asking you a rather surgical question. You are a journalist and a CEO. What is journalism for you- mission or profession?
It is a Mission which dipped and darkened in the inkpot of professionalism. Legendary Telugu poet Gurajada Venkata Apparao’s famous patriot song written in 1910 – Desamunu Preminchumanna inspired me in many ways. The lyrics – Desamante matti kaadoyi, desamante manushuloyi (A country is not made of land; a country is made of its people) – motivated me to look beyond the news business. That is one of the reasons why the punch line of TV9 is ‘for better society.’
How do you maintain a balance between journalism and management?
I believe in the principle of simple pendulum. Keep things as simple as possible. Journalism is treated as a mission and management is a part of ensuring that business is profitable.
Normally, TV channels start from National level and then spread into the regional market. Why did you start the other way round?
We always had this in mind – regional today – national tomorrow. And now when we have established our presence nationally – we are changing the punch line – national today – international tomorrow.
TV9 started from the regional market as a 24-hour news channel in Andhra Pradesh in 2004, and is reaching the national platform. The strength coming from our extensive regional penetration will help us in having the edge over the present players in the market.
India is a vast country with different languages and cultures. Media pundits sitting in Delhi have failed to understand the needs and aspirations of this diversified and unique population. Today, TV9 speaks seven languages and reflects their culture and work for the people in that particular region. Therefore, we can say that our audience is from wherever we speak their language and reflect their aspirations.
Tell us something about your journey?
Started off as a journalist two decades back in print. Eventually took up broadcast at the time when shoots were done on VHS. Started TV news on cable before taking up first Telugu news on website and eventually launched first 24-hours Telugu news channel in the country.
Ok, a little different question. Is God dead?
Don’t know. Never had interaction with Him.
What according to you is the destiny?
Ideation, planning, hardwork and determination are the ingredients for destiny.
Eight channels, four years. What next?
We have already shown our presence in US. In India – Chennai and Delhi are the next destination while Africa is being explored on initial level.
How is the media in Southern India different from what it is in the North?
Our national channels are biased towards North. Thus the people from South cannot link with them.
Andhra Pradesh is the only state where regional news channels have a nearly 10 per cent share of total TV viewership. All other regional news channels, including single players, do not have more than four per cent share in any of the states.
And in AP there are fourteen 24-hrs news channel of one regional language and the competition is deadly for survival.
Tell us something about Ravi Prakash that many people don’t know. What do you do to unwind yourself?
Ravi Prakash is a simple man. Is a journalist to the core of the heart. I unwind myself by listen to music and spending whatever leisure period I have with family.
What has remained your most memorable moment in your career so far?
Launch of TV9 Andhra Pradesh.
Ok, I give you a situation. Suppose there is a family function to attend, suddenly there is breaking news, and just then you get a phone call from an old friend, who is on the deathbed. How will you go about dealing with the situation?
I do not answer hypothetical questions.