The Economics of a Digital News Agency

May 19 16:40 2022

A cocktail of journalists, Technicians, Bureaucrats stirred into homogeneity by a Technocrat, a film Maker and an Investment banker defines the actual economics of a News Agency.  Well, money still rules and so does the financial implications of noble investment and good governance. Prasar Bharati was conceived as an autonomous body for bringing into the public domain the right unadulterated, complete and comprehensive information. Sadly, the information to be released into the public domain was still marred by red tape’s apathy and inefficiency due to bureaucrats running both the News services of All India Radio and Doordarshan News. The ingenuity of Dr. A. Surya Prakash the then Chairman of Prasar Bharati made history when he delineated the concept of Prasar Bharati News Services & Digital Platform (PBNS) as the Digital News Agency Service for people of india and for perception management regarding India globally. His deftness was not limited to just making the blue print of the News Agency but in his conscious effort for choosing the right person to head the Digital News Agency of Prasar Bharati. A Global Investment Banker was brought in to lay the foundation of the Digital arm of Prasar Bharati and to build not only the infrastructure but also the defining team and the required content.

The Digital Arm was carved on the concept of ring fencing used in creating Bad banks in the aftermath of Global Financial Crisis, where in the non-productive elements were filtered to create a core group of functionality, a cocktail of the right elements. The Banker with his expertise in Exotic trading took the reins of Prasar Bharati News Services and Digital Platform. A young man of 38yrs age left the opportunities of flourishing international career to serve the bigger cause, a cause which mattered for his motherland. Samir Kumar, with his diverse profile, with his education in the premium institutes of India namely IIT Kharagpur and IIM Calcutta proved to be the right choice in heading the Digital Arm of Prasar Bharati. His impact was soon evident when Prasar Bharati Board took decision to review and to discontinue acquiring services of UNI and PTI which no longer served any purpose after the empanelment of the vast network of Stringers and Part Time Correspondents. The investment Banker made an immediate saving of 16 Crores per annum. A task which was left indecisive for years. The digital News handles became operational with a dedicated efficient team trained in the nuances of breaking the right news in the right prospective. The USP of this Digital Platform is its ability to connect directly with the source for the right news. When asked the importance of connecting with the source, Samir Kumar in his very spiritual demeanour replied, “Fake news or improper handling of News can cause havoc. We have our scriptures first recording the repercussions of doctored presentation of News in the Mahabharata. Ashvaththama died was proclaimed by Yudhishtira but whether the man or the elephant made all the difference in the narrative building”.  Understanding the concept, it is not a surprise that Samir Kumar takes pride in following the old age tradition of wearing Khadaus, the wooden footwear of the sages. Evidently the right talent and the right spiritual prospective.

The challenges of the rickety organisation marred by inefficient processes manifested in the form of huge delays in infrastructure setup and team hiring. Determined to defy the naysayers with an entrepreneurial spirit, Samir Kumar went on to build a small but very impactful team of in-house engineers, few permitted market hires and interns to build systems and process which have saved crores and started generating good revenue. The novice team members he has selected have been trained to project information as easy to comprehend pointers supported by vivid infographics. The design of the news handle is to digitally repurpose the information in such a manner that it appeals to both the Digital aware and the digitally illiterate. True to its conceptualisation, after three years of existence, PBNS has proved to be a showstopper in the Digital News Space. Publishing a daily digital News magazine focusing on the positive initiatives and the Good News is a feat still unthinkable by most News media houses. To profitability run a Digital Platform the selection of Samir Kumar, considering his experiences in Global Financial Institutes, creative abilities in producing the first National award movie in Maithili language and performances as CEO Hindusthan Samachar has proved to be the success formula for the Global Digital arm of Prasar Bharati under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. PBNS, a startup started in the garage of Prasar Bharati is ready to scale up and take the world of news and media by storm.

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