Protean Mr Screwvala

Ronnie Screwvala represents the one-man force that revolutionised the media business in India. As the head of one of India's biggest media conglomerates, Screwvala's strategies and vision act as a bellwether for the industry. In an exclusive interview with Adgully, he talks about UTV's achievements and plans

Adgully: Movie producer, TV biz honcho, renowned media personality ” how do you handle so many roles?

Ronnie Screwvala: It is about the teams you work with. It is always about the teams. It is not about just coming up with an idea, it is about how you work in a team and how you create ” and we partner really well. I think that's the two key successes of UTV: teamwork and partnership.

AG: What was the rationale of forging a partnership with Bloomberg?

RS: Bloomberg is the number one business brand in the world. Today, there is not a single person in business, anywhere in the whole world, who does not have in-depth knowledge coming from Bloomberg. In a business, success depends on how deep you can go into research, how deep you can go into history and facts, and analyse the data. There is nobody in the world who analyses data better than Bloomberg.

AG: What inspired you to start a unique channel like World Movies?

RS: We are in the creative business and not only wanted to create a movie channel but also own it in all aspects. We had a Hindi movie channel and a Hollywood channel, which is UTV Action. Therefore, we wanted everything in between the two, neither Indian nor Hollywood, which is the rest of the world. Most people think the rest of the world makes only art house films. In reality, they just make very very strong films. That was the single motivation for World Movies.

AG: You exited Hungama shortly after starting it. What was the reason behind that decision?

RS: No we didn't exit it. The Walt Disney Company is the number one media company in the world. When we were segregating our activities we felt that since they were running a kids' channel, Hungama should go with them in their kids' channel bouquet. And it was not as though we first we sold the channel and then Walt Disney came in. We inherited a partner first and in that process the segregation happened where we looked at Hungama as a separate channel that came under their cluster of kids' channels. Otherwise we would be competing in the same space with a partner.

AG: Do we see any merger, acquisition or dilution in the near future?

RS: No absolutely none. There is no reason for us to look at dilutions, I think in all our verticals we are growing and holding up.

AG: How do you see the group evolving in the next few years?

RS: I think we are the only diversified media conglomerate in this country. I think as a brand we reach out to more people than all broadcasters do, or any movie productions company does or anyone in the print medium. I think first and foremost we want to start building on the fact that we are a B2C company. The brand has to mean something to the consumer, when he watches a movie, when he consumes a game on a mobile, or when he consumes a product of ours on the internet or on television. At all points, the consumer has to get a sense of a certain standardized quality.

AG: CBS is entering in India in partnership with Reliance ADAE, what is your take?

RS: There is not a single media company in the world now that can ignore India. If you look at the whole world landscape, Europe is kind of dead, Japan is insular and there is no other large country in Asia. China is closed for media, so where is anyone going to look for an opportunity? So there is no surprise or shock that everyone in media is looking at India.

AG: Any parting message

RS: I think the media has started figuring out how to have a balanced approach and actually contribute positively and not controversially. | By Janees Antoo [janees(at)]


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