Munish Gupta is a journalist-turned media entrepreneur who has vended his way through the rigours of mainstream Indian journalism, branching off into television and broadcast media, and later also on into ‘narrow-casting’ content to targeted audiences through the Web. Along the way, he has forayed into event management, product launches, providing consultancy for start-ups and new international ventures, and several other path-breaking approaches to networking and bringing people together through innovative use of conventional and new media resources. NRI Achievers touched base with him to find out what makes him tick.
“I am based out of California in the US today, but spend roughly six months here in India, dividing my time more or less equally between Delhi, where my parents live, and my establishment in the US. My father, Mr. K N Gupta, is an old school journalist and a trade union leader, who has been part of the Delhi Press Corps all his life. And I grew up with the ambience and milieu of journalism wafting through the very air that I breathed. So it was not surprising that after I finished my honours degree in Physics, I opted to go in for a Diploma in Mass comm & Advertising, and got into mainstream print media. Though it was an invigorating experience and I enjoyed every minute of my stint in the mainstream print media, moving up the hierarchy, ladder and the pecking order in the typical newspaper structure and scenario, I did realise, maybe ahead of time, that the audio visual medium was the one which was more interesting to my reckoning, and I began dabbling in it.
“In 1991, I teamed up with Sanjeev Prakash, who was just back from the US, to reinvent a running business that was until then catering largely to the India needs of a few foreign television channels, and restructure it as an organisation and news-enterprise that was more in keeping with the times, to cater to the growing demand for news, documentary and other content from the public broadcaster, DD, and the then nascent electronic media that was opening up to private sector intervention and enterprise. Thus began the chapter of ANI, where Sanjeev held the fort and managed the operations from home base here in India, and I took off to the US, to handle the overseas part of the operations. The venture grew from strength to strength, and the proof of the pudding is there in front of your eyes today, where ANI is the dominant provider of content of all kinds to almost every broadcaster operating out of the country, not to mention several international broadcasters, who depend on ANI for their newsfeeds out of India.
“I have always had this wanderlust and penchant for a restlessness once a business venture I undertake stabilises and transitions into the sort of clockwork precision that well designed and well-setup businesses get into after their gestation and establishment stage, and as a corollary the need for my active intervention also abates to a certain extent. This invariable tends to kindle my thirst for innovation, and the desire for embarking on more and challenging activities. This trend manifested itself during the early 2000s with ANI, and I decided to move on. Vijay Amritraj, tennis legend, friend, and serial entrepreneur came up with a proposition that I liked, and we got into several projects, promoting new ventures, introduction of new services, India launches for multinational giants, helping channels in their production mix and content design, we did a lot of exiting work between 2001 and 2006, that proved enriching for both of us.
“In 2006, the germ of an idea that I had been nurturing in my mind finally germinated, and PIO TV saw the light of day. PIO TV is a visual media electronic platform for the Diaspora, by the Diaspora. It garners quality content from across India, for the consumption of the Indian Diaspora across the globe, who now number in several millions. From the other side of the coin, PIO TV also brings in high quality content from Diaspora enclaves across the world into India, for targeted audiences that are likely to consume such content.
“I am also active in NRI and PIO organisations, notably in the largest among them, the GOPIO, or the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin. While I hold several responsibilities within GOPIO, suffice it is to say in the context of our talk that my keenness and priority right now is to work for the mainstreaming of the connections and networking of the Diaspora in Africa, East and South East Asia with the homeland, as this is one part of the world where our Diaspora live in large numbers, but the connectivity is below optimal levels. All the other work I do with GOPIO is perhaps more appropriate as another story for your magazine, if and when you choose to focus upon it.”