Founder & Former MD, Network 18 Founder & Chairman – Quintillion Media Pvt Ltd Entrepreneur, Business Leader Author & Editor on Economic Policy & Global Affairs Media Industry Expert
Often called the ‘Rupert Murdoch of India’, Raghav Bahl is a journalist, entrepreneur, media baron and one of the most respected business leaders of India. He built a highly diversified media company, Network 18, which has news operations at its core, and layered with a rich assortment of entertainment and film properties. Raghav recently exited from the company and founded Quintillion Media Pvt Ltd. The company’s first offering in The Quint – a mobile first digital news platform.
Raghav began his media journey while still in college. As a student at St. Stephens College, his passion for news compelled him to create TV programmes and moderate debates for the state-owned network. Not seeing much opportunity for journalists in India then, he decided to pursue an MBA from the University of Delhi and work as a management consultant for AF Ferguson and American Express Bank.
The television bug, however, continued to spur him on and he kept making TV shows in his spare time. When satellite TV arrived in 1991, he invested USD 2,000 to make two pilot programmes, one in news and one entertainment, and sent them—via video cassette!—to the BBC and Star TV in Hong Kong. They both wanted them. He also began making shows for CNBC Asia, so when they decided to launch a 24-hour business news channel in India, Raghav was a natural partner for them.
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In 1993, Raghav launched his own television production company, shortly after the Indian government privatised the industry as part of its push for economic growth. Today, Network 18 is one of India’s biggest media conglomerates, with nearly 35 TV channels, 13 websites, a portfolio of niche magazines, and a movie-production company. Its current market capitalisation is well over a billion dollars. The company has formed successful joint ventures with CNBC, Forbes, A&E Networks, Viacom, and Time Warner, with whom it runs India’s leading English news channel, CNN-IBN. It operates the country’s leading Hindi news channel, IBN7, and is growing in regional markets as well.
Raghav has been felicitated at various national and international forums. In 1994, the World Economic Forum called him a Global Leader of Tomorrow and he won India’s Sanskriti Award for Journalism. Ernst & Young named Raghav the Entrepreneur of the Year for Business Transformation in 2007. And in 2011, he won the All India Management Association’s Media Person of the Year award, as well as the Bombay Management Association’s prize for Entrepreneur of the Year. He was also bestowed an honorary degree from Amity University in Uttar Pradesh.
Raghav’s first book, Superpower? The Amazing Race Between China’s Hare and India’s Tortoise, was published by Penguin Allen Lane in 2010, and remained on India’s bestseller list for several weeks. It was one of the few Indian books picked up by Portfolio/Penguin for a wider international release in the US, the UK and Canada, and was later translated into several other languages. It received some excellent press—while Fareed Zakaria recommended it on his CNN show GPS, former Indian deputy Prime Minister LK Advani wrote a blog post about it. In connection with its publication, Raghav appeared on Richard Quest’s CNN show Quest Means Business, the BBC’s HARDtalk, CNBC’s Street Signs, The Street.com, Bloomberg radio, The Leonard Lopate Show on New York public radio, Voice of America, and ABC Radio. He also delivered speeches or appearances at the Council on Foreign Relations, the London School of Economics, and the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business.
Raghav’s second non-fiction book SuperEconomies: America, India, China and the Future of the World, also published by Penguin makes a strong case for how an emerging axis of the major democracies—America’s might combined with India’s potential might—could counteract the rise of China in the coming years. SuperEconomies provides an informed discourse for people interested in the geo-economic and geo-political dynamics of the twenty-first century.