A channel is vulnerable only if quality drops: Ashok Venkatramani, CEO, MCCS

17 Apr,2012

By A Correspondent


A mechanical engineer from Mumbai and MBA from IIM, Ahmedabad, Mr Venkatramani started his career with Unilever, and was with the FMCG giant for 19 years. He held the position of Vice President and Business Head for Unilever inIndiatill February 2008, heading their largest and most profitable business – toilet soaps and skincare business.


From Unilever, Mr Venkatramani moved to being appointed CEO of the Star-ABP JV which ran the news channels of Star India.


While the buzz in MCCS that we are hearing is very positive, what we hear is that the end of the alliance will possibly see MCCS expanding into more channels… a Punjabi news channel, for instance?

We are always on the look-out for growth and this development has nothing to do with it. I think we have the scope to grow organically and inorganically and we are constantly evaluating options.


While it’s the content that should speak for a media entity and not its name, the fact is that Star is a household brand in the country. Do you see a setback for the Hindi and Marathi news channels since ABP may not necessarily strike a chord with viewers?

No, not a set back at all. With the Marathi and Bengali channels, Majha and Ananda as suffixes are unique and have grown in popularity and acceptance. Of course, that’s not the case with Hindi where the suffix is ‘News’ and hence generic. So, yes, Hindi is a challenge on a relative scale, but not so with Marathi and Bengali.


Would you expect more synergies with ABP print from now on?

There will be no significant change on this front… it will be what it has always been.


So will we now a see a blitz to communicate the name change?

Yes, there will be an aggressive campaign to announce the change, especially in Hindi.


Will the change impact MCCS… your key resources, and the way the business has been done?

No change whatsoever.


There have been many cases of brands changing in the past. In telecom in Mumbai, we’ve seen Max Touch becoming Hutch, Orange and finally Vodafone. But what is fine for telecom, may not be the case for media, right?

Yes, there are several changes. UTI Bank to Axis Bank, L&T Cement to UltraTech Cement. When there is a name change, there’s no shift in consumer base. People don’t change their bank or telecom provider as long as the service quality is maintained.


So you are vulnerable only if the quality drops, and that can happen even if the name doesn’t change!


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