Setting up the ITV Network was a leap of faith for Kartikeya Sharma. Taking every challenge in his stride, the network’s Group Chairman talks about right decisions made at the right time, power of ‘differentiated content’ and what makes ITV grow at a time when the news genre bleeds. He is also upbeat about ITV’s soon-to-be-launched integrated social media platform, which he expects to be a key differentiator.
The journey of ITV started in 2007. Sharma’s initial goal was to launch a national channel. However, the economic downturn forced him to re-strategize. His new game plan was the regional news channel, India News. Today, ITV operates five regional channels under the brand name India News across Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand, and Bihar and Jharkhand. Subsequently, in 2012, ITV acquired NewsX (the channel’s third owner since its inception in 2008), an English news channel which had a market-share of less than 1% at the time. A business move that raised eyebrows of many, Sharma says even here the company saw the challenge as an opportunity to turn around a crisis. Since then, NewsX has managed to create a space in the market and build a viewership base for itself in the crowded English News genre.
From building hotels to launching channels from scratch, the entrepreneur in Kartikeya Sharma seeks to contribute to society. Speaking to Simran Sabherwal and Henna Achhpal, he talks about differentiated content on Television, expectations from the new I&B Minister and why a free-to-air channel is not actually free-to-air.
In terms of content and programming, all news channels look similar. Why don’t we see innovative or clutter-breaking programming?