26 Questions With : Tarun Katial, CEO at Reliance Broadcast Network Limited
Updated on: 28 Jun 2016
Tarun Katial has many notable achievements to his credit. Among them: being one of a bunch of advertising media professionals who made an effective and successful transition to broadcasting. As programming head of Star Plus, he ensured that the network stayed on top of the viewership ratings in the last decade, before he shifted to Sony Entertainment (now SPN TV).
But what has kept him busy over the last decade is radio, followed by TV, at the Anil Ambani group owned Reliance Broadcast Network Ltd (RBNL). As CEO he is responsible for the nationwide radio network under the 92.7 Big FM brand and two successful channels – Big Magic and Big Ganga. It is with the last two that he has disrupted the broadcasting ecosystem by building audiences for the two niche channels and making them profitable. Indiantelevision.com had a conversation with Katial who spoke about the selloff rumours, his radio journey, benefits of DAS Phase III and trends in television content. Excerpts:
These days whenever we read we read about the network, the one canard that comes up is the sell off of RBNL. Is there any truth in the entire rumour?
We are a 10-year old brand and the journey has been very interesting. At this stage of our brand life cycle we look for opportunities to partner with different people. We have been in the process of exploration for sometime now but there isn't anything definite about the option that we are exploring. Only time will tell where it goes.
You are the one at the helm of a television channel as well as a radio network. Both are placed poles apart. As a professional, how do you manage the two roles?
I draw motivation from my consumers and I think it's an interesting time where consumer and media are concerned…where the content is concerned. We see ourselves as a platform, as a content rich company, and we look to evolve as a company which can stay ahead and map consumer trends as much and as far as possible. It is also hard but interesting as how can you differentiate yourself from everybody else in the market as there are some media companies which are doing excellent work and it becomes a very tiring task to be able to build a product which can actually stand out.
And now you have been doing it since a decade? What are your key observations over this journey?
I think consumers have incredibly changed. From time where we started feature phones or smart phones were way away. Apple, Blackberry were not even there to now where everything is smart. You can't hope that a consumer will latch on to something unless you're unique, you are value creating, you have a point view and you have place in his daily life and media consumption habits. Until you are cutting edge, sharply focussed and you stand for something you cannot make progress.
Do you think the art of storytelling has also changed over the years when it comes to radio? We have really evolved as a network and it has taken a lot of time and effort in creating some of the content pillars we have. Yes, the art of storytelling is very rich now. Whatever you do it has to be in depth. If you look at some of our shows like Suhaana Safar with Annu Kapoor whether its Nayak with Sanjeev Srivastava or its Arth or our National breakfast show with Siddharth, each of our shows rely on a huge amount of research and consumer insights.
Are you happy with the way the industry is evolving in terms of advertising?