A legacy with not one but two news juggernauts: the media baroness behind Network18 and The Quint, Ritu Kapur
One of the founding members of Network18 in 1992, the Jamia Millia Islamia University alumnus started off on a high note, producing The India Show, India’s first local production on a satellite channel, Star Plus; and in 1995, she started directing and writing screenplays for the docu-drama series Bhanwar , one of the highest-rated shows of its time. When Network18 launched CNN IBN in 2005, Kapur became its features editor and, in 2008, she pioneered a format with the CJ (Citizen Journalist) Show, which encouraged viewers to contribute news using their mobile phones.
When the Reliance Industries took over Network18 in 2014, Kapur and her husband Raghav Bahl made a Rs.7 billion exit, visited several newsrooms in the US and discovered smartphones, interactive technology and multimedia were the name of the game. So, for Kapur, one of the biggest challenges was to unlearn what she had learned over the years as a broadcaster. “When we started out, 80% of our traffic came from social media, though now it’s less than 20%. But we were able to use social media platforms to build our brand, use it as our megaphones,” Kapur says.
Contributing greatly to this success story is immense familial support. “I come back home expecting dinner on the table. I have a very supportive family — I’m possibly a minority among women entrepreneurs,” says Kapur.
In fact, even professionally, there was a time when 85% of Network18’s management were men, and she felt making her opinions count became difficult since she handled content rather than management. “(I would) think that guys who spoke assertively knew better than I did, (and) what a mistake that was! Women should realise that they often have a better handle on things than others,” she points out with a laugh.
The Quint, which started with an initial team of 15 in 2014, has around 180 people working for it today across New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bengaluru and Lucknow and is scaling up by the month. And Quint Neon, focusing on beats like gender, satire, food and culture, is faring well and its Hindi platform has been growing fast – and Kapur feels that quality content is the greatest differentiator.