How Zee TV started and changed Indian TV history..

Another great article from BS staff. It is a paper which believes in Indian business and keeps coming up with these great stories:

Circa 1991: Subhash Chandra, a Hissar-based businessman, and Ashok Kurien, then the head of Ambience Advertising, were watching CNN. “We thought, ‘We should do this (television),'” said Chandra. The duo, along with other friends, took a business plan to Li Ka-Shing’s Hutchinson Whampoa. It owned Asiasat 1, the only satellite broadcasting into India and China then. But just before the presentation Richard, Li’s son, dismissed the idea saying there was no money in India and demanded $5 million (Rs 15 crore then) a year as lease for a transponder that was priced at $1.25 million by his own team. Chandra lost his cool. He said he would pay $5 million but the deal had to be signed ‘now.’ Li refused. He was, however, intrigued enough to come to India in 1992. He met Nusli Wadia, Samir Jain, Sanjay Dalmia, and other businessmen. No one wanted the transponder at $5 million a year. Li then met Chandra once more and in May 1992 the two signed a deal. On October 2, 1992, Zee Television went on air.

Circa 2014: At Rs 8,110 crore (in March 2014) the is India’s second-largest media and entertainment firm. It is the largest private Indian player in television – the biggest part of the Rs 83,000-crore media and entertainment industry. Samir Jain’s The Times Group, which in 1992 looked unassailable, is now sitting on a fast-eroding English print market. Its television business is roughly 10 per cent of the Zee’s group revenues.

Little wonder then that the ‘father of the Indian television business,’ Chandra figures among the most important figures in India’s business history. At a time when none of the big names in media or otherwise thought much of India as a TV market, Chandra, a rice trader from Haryana made a bid that was reportedly five times more than the one The Times did. It was a display of entrepreneurship, vision, and an appetite for risk that he has shown again and again. He set up, under the $3.2-billion Essel Group, India’s first leisure park (EsselWorld); the first electronic lottery company (Playwin); the first direct-to-home operation (Dish TV); launched a newspaper in Mumbai with (DNA); the first flexi-packaging unit in India (Essel Propack); and so on it goes.

These days Chandra is focused on the other initiatives of the group, primarily infrastructure and education. There is TALEEM or Transnational Alternate Learning for Emancipation and Empowerment through Multimedia. And he chairs the Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation of India, a movement to eradicate illiteracy from rural and tribal India. It provides free education to a million-plus tribal children across 36,783 villages through one-teacher schools.

Fairy tale stuff. But that is how most businesses are really created. Chutzpah as the article argues matters greatly..

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