Saturday, December 08, 2012

Lonely Knight

Dasgupta’s successor will not find the going very easy

Aleader can be as great as can be, but he cannot ever be larger than his team. That’s exactly where Multi Screen Media’s (MSM) now ex-CEO Kunal Dasgupta faltered. Undoubtedly, Sony grew leaps and bounds in India under his stewardship. But unfortunately, insecurity and the fear of being overshadowed by new blood gripped him so badly that his prime focus shifted (from ensuring the channel’s success) towards chucking out his possible successors.

Dasgupta joined Sony as CFO in 1995 and was promoted as CEO in just three years (in 1998). Over his 14-year-long stint, he build the Sony network from one entertainment channel to a bouquet of six channels. With his visionary leadership, he has not only led Sony but the entire genre. He brought the concept of cricket as entertainment by telecasting it on SETMAX. He started telecasting new movie flicks to get glued eyeballs on weekends. He also managed to displace Zee TV from its number one position in 1999. This time, his weapon was horror show ‘Aahat’. Andy Kaplan, President – International Networks, SPTI acknowledges Kunal’s contribution, “Kunal has played an instrumental role in growing our channels business... His experience and leadership will be greatly missed.”

Maybe. But ten years later, Kunal hasn’t exactly been the image of visionary leadership that he was when he started off. For he is the man who has also led Sony on the downtrodden path to a poor number four in the GEC category in the latter half of 2008. So where did this media maverick go wrong? “I think Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) should have never ever happened… because I had a chance to buy it but I felt a quiz format will not be that appealing to the audience. I refused it...”, is what Dasgupta himself admitted earlier to B&E. And that exactly was the turning point. In July 2000, KBC was launched on Star Plus along with K-packed soaps. Within months Star Plus became number one in the GEC category. Since then, Dasgupta has been on an erring spree and Sony kept falling on expectations. And as he started faltering, his fears of being replaced became stronger, with alarming consequences.

Source : IIPM Editorial, 2012.
An Initiative of IIPMMalay Chaudhuri

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