RIP, Vasant Sathe, grand patron of colour TVs in India

26 Sep,2011

By Pradyuman Maheshwari


Not many amongst mediapersons and marketers may know that former minister and veteran Congress leader Vasant Purshottam Sathe, who passed away last Friday, was the man who fought with a variety of lobbies and brought colour television to India in 1982.

I still recall the news reports on Sathe in the very early ‘80s where as information and broadcasting minister had a tough time with the black-and-white television lobby. Finally, it was the Asian Games and World Cup Hockey that did the trick. Guess the fact that Rajiv Gandhi was general secretary of the Congress then and was actively involved with the Asiad would’ve also helped.

Sathe was also instrumental in spreading the Doordarshan network by setting up low power transmitters. This eventually led DD introducing the National Network.  He is reported to have faced opposition to introducing sponsored programmes, but later the pubcaster was receptive to the concept. And how!

I don’t remember much about this, but I read on a bio on his website that he also helped in clearing the controversies around Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi.

While it’s true that colour television would’ve eventually entered India even if Vasant Sathe had not intervened, but surely it wouldn’t have happened in 1982.

1990 possibly.


Photograph: Image of his book cover on



My Delhi trip and’s code of ethics


Met the awardwinning CEO of an awarding winning channel at the Delhi airport while I was on my way back yesterday. I was in the Capital to meet the MxMIndia team and interview a few possible recruits as also attend a luxury magazine’s awards do. The event was at the Jaypee Greens Golf and Spa Resort which is located some 20 km from Noida in Greater Noida.

I accepted the offer for a night’s stay because while Jaypee Greens is an excellent place, it is in the back of beyond. Plus I wanted a sneak peek at some of the facilities being created for the F1 next month.

So how does a junket like this work with your Code of Ethics, the CEO asked me. One, our report on the event will clearly carry the disclosure in the story that we are subjected to the hospitality. And, two, while any degree of hospitality extended would amount to it being a junket, the only reason I accepted it was that I believed that attending the awards would help me understand the high-end luxury content space better as also interact with the people who matter in the business. Which I did. As a bonus, I also met a few senior mediapersons at the do.

Had to trek back to South Delhi for my meetings and finally to the airport.

However, having been quizzed by the CEO and realising that MxMIndia and I are going to be subjected to some scrutiny on this count, I guess there is need to be even more vigilant in ensuring that we adhere to the Code.

Aatma chintan, as the BJP calls it.

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