Megha as Chief Operating Officer has overall strategic and operational responsibility for the entire portfolio of the company’s offerings
Ability to overcome obstacles and capture opportunities by closing exclusive deals, create and implement savvy marketing strategies has been Megha’s forte. Her efforts were validated when she was recognized as ‘Next 30’ most powerful women to look out in 2010; and was also adjudged as one of India’s hottest young executives of the media industry in 2009 by Business Today and amongst the top 50 influential women in media, marketing and advertising by a leading industry magazine – IMPACT in 2012 and 2014. She also received Women Leadership award by World Women Leadership Congress in 2014. Megha was judged amongst India’s top 100 important people in the industry by Digital Studio, a leading magazine in Broadcasting and Production.
She is recognized for strong leadership skills and excellence in training, development and mentoring of staff and customers.
Megha Tata is a follower of Sadhguru and a part time volunteer of Isha Foundation and She attributes her energy and her sense of calmness to meditation which she does regularly as this keeps her mind alert and a sense of clarity in dealing with issues. She says, I used to stress a lot but not anymore, as Sadhguru says, you can’t control the world but you can control yourself. That is what inner engineering is all about.
She spoke to TVNews4U.com in an exclusive interview on her role and BTVI way forward.
- From heading Entertainment , Kids , English Movie channels to a completely different genre i.e. Business News
Basically it’s been over 26 years in the media Industry, My entry into Star was by chance and then large part of my career was in the Entertainment genre, I got branded as a Special interest channel specialist, i.e handling niche channels like English Movies, Infotainment, Kids. All these genres are special interest genres.
After I left HBO I was contemplating what next, as with my level and experience there was very limited choice available, also I was not in a rush. Then I had an opportunity to do a Consultancy Assignment with Bloomberg, that time Reliance ADA had decided to exit from the Bloomberg label and the transition from Bloomberg to something else had to be done. I was brought on board to do that transition. In that 5-6 months I was not operationally involved but was more strategically involved in the process of transition as a lot needs to be done when the transition is of that scale.
For me it was a very interesting experience and in those 6 months I got a crash course into the news genre per se without actually running the network. As the process went smoothly the board offered me the role of running the business. Honestly, I was very sceptical. Like you said, that was not my genre and I had never done news before and within that Business news is even more of a specialised genre. That was a dilemma for me but I just took it up because in my life, I have always taken up things which is not in my comfort zone and tried to make that work some way or the other.
When I had moved from Star to Turner I had never done kids before and from there I moved to HBO where I had never done Premium English Pay Service as HBO was launching Ad free channel. My total work life was ad sales, and here I was trying to propagate an ad free proposition! Also in an environment where broadcasters are paying for carriage, we were asking subscribers to pay for the services. It was a complete different kind of a role and I took it up as it was very challenging. It did really well but the management decided to shut operation in India but for me it was a great learning experience. Keeping that in mind I decided, knowing that news is not really my comfort zone I said let me see how I can make it work. The fundamentals of television are the same but the specificities required for this genre need to be acquired and if you are reasonably intelligent, it’s not rocket science and you can come around and learn. Ever since I took over this role, it’s been a roller coaster ride. We completed a year in August. The entire year was packed with various things whether it was operational or execution of the transition, the overall team building, some successes, some failures but learning experience throughout. A very demanding but yet a very fulfilling journey so far.
2. You have strong competition from existing leaders in the genre, how has BTVI coped in the past One year?
For us, we see it as new brand launched though the organisation has been around for a decade. BTVI (Business Television India) is One year old and in many ways, is a new product. However, lot of people say that we have been around for so long but no it was UTVi first then Bloomberg TV. So, for a brand launch which is just One year old in an environment which is very well entrenched in this space, also very competitive and very small, we are on the right path. The fact is that it’s a very small universe. Despite very strong players the genre has not grown. In the general news genre, we have seen many new entrants in the past decade which has led to the genre growing but the business news genre everyone is eating out of the same pie which then becomes that much more competitive to survive. So, with the challenging mandate we have we also must be prudent about our spends, this is a cash consuming business and anything you spend is not enough which is very true of any channel launch in the country today and that is why you haven’t seen many brand launches happening for the past few years because it is very expensive to survive.
Though we have the backing of our promoters it is a very competitive space and if you are not there sensibly it’s difficult to survive. If you can’t plan your business the way that it can be sustainable you will always be pressurised to spend. It’s easy to spend money but how, when and in what manner you spend it is very important to keep the business stable. So what we are doing is to keep it really tight and make it effective to where we believe where we can convert audiences towards us. From the time of the launch we are quite happy with the way we are progressing. We have doubled our shares, in an environment we are in it’s quite an achievement but we are not sitting on it as the distance is pretty large. We are in the process of content engagement ideas which are working that’s why our viewership has doubled as the consumers are liking what we are offering.
Logo change is what has given the channel a fresher look and also Business Television India was never established in the BTVI part of it and now in our communication Business Television India is mentioned in all our on and off-air communique reiterating the point that BTVI actually stands for Business Television India. People were confused about it being Bloomberg TV so far.
3. Would BTVI look to programming beyond marketing hours like how competition is doing?
BTVI is already doing programming beyond marketing hours, like the Auto show, Aspire, In Conversation, Beyond The Bottom-line, Etc., and other featured shows as part of our weekend programming. But we want to stick to the space of Business News. Even when Government policies are debated it keeps a view on how it will impact the Business. We are not a General News Channel as some of the others have a General News Channel in their bouquet from which they can extrapolate News out of that or News knowledge out of that. Our focus is purely business news, so even if there are Policy decisions being discussed our focus will be on how it impacts the business.
4. How do Advertisers look at BTVI?
To be honest we had a tough time last year, and the transition period had many challenges to deal with and in that and we were not fully equipped to handle some of the Ad Sales challenges. Also we didn’t have our own Ad sales team, as it was outsourced. Its only now, mid of this year we decided to have our own Ad Sales team and it’s in place & I can now see traction taking place. We have Shilpa Shetty who comes from the Times Network, Seema Pisharody from CNN IBN who is based out of Bangalore and Gagandeep Singh who handles Government Sales and is based out of Delhi. Between these three & their strong team who are experienced in this genre, I can see that traction is happening advertisers are also seeing that some growth is taking place which means we are doing something right and we are moving in the right direction.
One of the first indicators for me is what the Social Media is talking about, that is like your blue litmus test. You know what is being spoken how it is affecting or impacting and there we have seen a phenomenal growth. We were about 125 thousand twitter followers and now it is 260 thousand & growing everyday. Growth has happened not because of some random tweeting but content which is being produced out there and shared to the audience which is appreciating what is being spoken. I think there is a lot more to do in the digital space and that is some of the things we will be bringing to the table in the coming months.
5. With electrification and more TV households has your universe expanded?
For an English Business News channel, the key markets are 5 Metros and Gujarat one million + to a large extent. I don’t know if the new markets opening up will be focus for English Business Channel at this stage.
6. Strategy for way forward?
More focus on development of content for our consumer, over and above that to drive some focus on the digital front. We have an audience that is appreciating our content but we need to amplify that on various platforms. We are available on web, social already now App is the next step. That is our main focus in the next few months to get our consumers more engaged on the digital platforms.
7. Megha the achiever and your mantra to the women out there in this field?
There is no shortcuts to success, it’s hard work, commitment and most importantly Passion.
Passion has been my mantra and I have always propagated this to people around me. The day you get up feeling ‘oh not another day’, then it’s time for you to start thinking and letting go. It’s not about changing the world but just be happy and passionate about what you do. If you bring that quotient to the mix then everything falls into place
My team in HBO had put up Monica’s 4 P’s but there are also Megha’s 4 P’s Now! ‘Passion, Perfection, PR and Perception’. These are the key elements I have always believed in and amongst the marketing P’s which is taught in Business Schools this is one ‘P’that nobody can teach and that is ‘Passion’, which has to come from within yourself. Having said that it is also a combination of hard work, commitment and clarity of thought. Prioritisation is also very important as there is so much to do & you have to know how to prioritise as there are only 24 hours in a day! One needs to have a balanced approach. Even as a mother I made adjustments not compromises in my life. There are times when a PTA meeting was more important than a business meeting and at times vice-versa. That’s the balancing you need to do, this can’t be taught but comes from within you, by your experiences, understanding and prioritising what is important at that moment. Fortunately for me I have had huge family support which has been a boon for me to have reached so far.
As far as advice to women in this industry there are many women employed in our industry but I don’t see too many women as the Business head or Board level, somewhere down the line or should I say up the line it dissipates. There are two sets of arguments, one which says women are women’s enemies and the other set which says there is a Boys Club out there. I am no authority to comment on that, but you can count the number of women at a Board level or Business Heads in this field. It’s not about Male bashing or Men versus Women, but there is something fundamentally wrong in the way we exist – of not making the environment more conducive for women to grow.