Priya Mukherjee is President-Distribution & International Revenues, Republic Media Network. Recently we got a chance to get her views on various topics regarding her role in Republic Media Network, her thoughts about rising challenges for mainstream media and many other issues. Here are some excerpts of that conversation.
What is your role in the distribution system of Republic Media Network and how do you see it?
As part of the core management team of Republic Media Network, I lead the distribution and global revenue function. From setting up the distribution team, devising distribution strategy and blueprint, implementation pan India , to launching Republic TV as the No. 1 channel from day 1 of launch in 2017 and thereon to launch Republic Bharat in the Top 3 in 2019 it has been an immensely exciting and rewarding journey. It is heartening that we as a team, have achieved these milestones in such a short time span, when it takes years for channels to establish their foothold. Am especially proud of my distribution team who are by far the most hardworking, sincere and diligent lot I have worked with.
Any special reason for joining Republic Media Network?
I have always welcomed challenges in my career. Having been part of many successful channel launches before, the adrenaline of a launch, coupled with freedom to take decisions and work in a startup atmosphere was an exciting proposition. But the most important driver is always the people you will be working with, and the respect they have for you as professional. I am privileged to be part of Republic Media Network led by Arnab Goswami, who respects and understands the importance and role of distribution for a Channel’s success. The honesty, passion, energy and vision with which he leads us is magical. Vikas Khanchandani our CEO is an exemplary guiding force.
What have been the challenges and significant achievements throughout your career in the distribution industry so far?
I started my career with Discovery Channel in 1999-2000. Distribution was a male dominated field, but my boss and guiding force back then and for years to come – Mr. Anuj Gandhi asked me to take up a role in ground distribution and I stand eternally grateful to him for that! In the past, I have had the opportunity to work with great companies such as Sony Entertainment Television, Network 18, Den Networks, Palaash Ventures. I have had the privilege of being part of launch teams of channels such as History TV18 & CNN IBN, and be part of the founding team of Den Networks under learned and respected mentors Mr. Sameer Manchanda and Mr. S. N. Sharma. I had the opportunity to learn and work with startups and accelerators in Palaash Ventures, thanks to Mr. Piyush Goyal. And today I am proud to be part of Republic Media Network. The mentors, friends and well-wishers that I have earned in my career are my greatest assets and the stellar reputation I have built is my greatest achievement.
Please also tell what have been your achievements during your tenure at Republic Media Network?
Republic TV, with its launch in 2017 created history. From week 1 till date, Republic TV is the undisputed No. 1 channel in India. It is available across the highest number of towns with largest urban and rural penetration. Republic Bharat also launched with a bang in the fiercely competitive Hindi news space in the top 5 slots in February 2019. The distribution endeavor of Republic media network has been to simply reach each and every household in India. This feat would have been impossible without the love support and guidance from our esteemed Cable Partners and DTH partners, some of whom who are more well-wishers and friends than our business associates.
On the international front, Republic media network is available on leading distribution platforms of USA, UK, Canada, Middle East and North Africa. We have built solid partnerships on the international front as well and look forward to going form strength to strength globally.
The distribution industry is rapidly changing with new platforms and revised regulation. Shed some light on new-age distribution platforms, such as OTT and digital media? How much they affect the ecosystem and the overall scenario?
In spite of hosting the second highest internet users in the world, India has only 34% penetration compared to mature countries. We are in the era of internet boom in India. Data cost has become negligible and is available in abundance causing higher consumption patterns. Going forward video will become the primary source of consumption with content being platform agnostic. The younger audiences prefer to watch TV on devices such as laptop and desktop personal computers and smartphones.
With the ever-growing digital universe, Republic TV is one of the first few players to catch on the OTT era. Republic World’s content is widely available on several platforms including Vodafone Pay, Just Dial, Daily Hunt, Hotstar, Jio TV, Ola Play, Mi TV, Paytm, ZEE5, My Airtel App, Jio Express News, among others.
What do you think is the future of OTT and what challenges can they pose for a news channel in particular?
It is important for a revenue model to be eventually established for sustainability, supported by a robust measurement system. There is a huge opportunity for news in the OTT space, as there are great prospects to provide the subscriber on the go with access to curated – regional, topical and niche news on OTT. News video consumption will supersede text as access has improved and costs have reduced.
Only a few women powers are active in the distribution industry. What would you like to say about women power and its influence in the news channel distribution system?
In all my years in the distribution industry I have been blessed with the love respect and support of so many of my well-wishers in the industry, without whose helping hand I would not have been able to achieve the milestones I have. This is an industry that teaches you that with honesty, integrity, hard work, sincerity and most importantly value of relationships- you can achieve success- irrespective of your gender!
You have made a special place due to your perseverance and confident attitude. What message would you like to give for the distribution industry and its future?
Confidence comes from knowing your subject well and that only comes through perseverance and hard work. Ground teaches you. I offer my gratitude and sincere thanks to the industry and all those who have mentored me, supported me, been part of my team and always stood by me at all times. The Industry is fast changing- being nimble on one’s feet, collaborative, updated, analytical, adaptive to this fast-changing milieus Key. I like to believe in the adage “Don’t find fault – find a remedy”.
What do you think is so special in Republic TV and Republic Bharat, which have become very successful news channels in a very short time?
Our Core Leadership Team is in sync with ground realities and has immense faith and trust in its Team which is young dynamic passionate and hungry. Honesty, quick turnaround and decision making, company first & go- getter attitude has led to Republic Media Network’s growth.
Republic TV and Republic Bharat have made their positive presence felt globally as well in a short span of time. According to you is it as per expectations?
Within 36 months of launch, Republic Media Network is available on leading distribution platforms of Middle East and North Africa, Canada, UK and USA.
With strong programming and one of the widest news coverage from India, Republic TV and Republic Bharat have formed a special bond with viewers. We deliver best programming Mix for our foreign viewers. With our compelling content, huge fondness and appreciation for the channel from Indian diaspora internationally we are determined to build value through our partners for all the stakeholders.
TRAI’s tariff order has been in the news for quite some time. The cost of watching the channels for the subscribers has also increased a lot. TRAI is going to change the tariff order again. Would you like to say something about this?
The new tariff order aims to provide freedom of choice and greater availability of channels to viewers. Endeavor is to link cost directly to what they chose. Such transparency is a step in the right direction for all stake holders. With regard to placement fee however, there can be a more scientific approach that can be found.
Finally, if you do not mind, then please also tell something about your personal life, such as your family, your other hobbies etc.
My family is my strength. My parents are highly decorated professionals in their own right and they have taught me to be honest to my work and that success has no short cuts. I have imbibed professionalism from them. They have been my source of encouragement to excel, take risks, make that extra effort and most important go to into the field to learn.
Work and Travel takes up most of my time. But without fail I make time to actively participate in the Durga Puja conducted by the foundation set up by my father. I am a crazy animal lover. Our home is literally owned by our Pets!