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Profile - Yubaraj Bhattacharya: Regional Challenge

By Anushree Bhattacharyya , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | December 13, 2010
Bhattacharya, shares his journey so far with afaqs! and how he got into the television business.

A key person credited with the success of the Bengali general entertainment channel (GEC), Star Jalsha, now has a new challenge. As the CEO of Mahuaa Media, Yubaraj Bhattacharya will have a broader canvas to paint than as the programming head of Star Jalsha. Mahuaa Media has two regional language GECs, Bengali and Bhojpuri, apart from a news channel. The company also plans to launch a slew of channels in other languages.

Bhattacharya, shares his journey so far with afaqs! Reporter and how he got into the television business.

Bhattacharya, who finished his schooling from St. Lawrence, Kolkata, decided to pursue a course in chartered accountancy after graduating from Ashutosh College. He soon realised that it wasn't his cup of tea. And one day on a friend's suggestion, he decided to sit for the copy test at Contract. Though he cleared the copy test, he was deemed a better fit for the planning function. Within a year's time he was sent for an induction programme called Windows in Mumbai, run by the legendary Subroto Sengupta, former boss of the ad agency Clarion.

After spending a year at Contract Mumbai, Bhattacharya moved back to Kolkata for personal reasons. When he moved back to Mumbai a year later, he joined the media function of Chaitra Leo Burnett (now Leo Burnett). Here, he got the opportunity to work with many media stalwarts such as Pravin Tripathi, LV Krishnan and Ravi Kiran. It was at Leo Burnett that his talent received recognition and he was shifted to servicing.

However, destiny had some other plans for him. Bhattacharya had to return to Kolkata again to look after his parents, who were unwell. Once there, he decided to pursue his first love - film making. He joined a production company, Black Magic Motion Pictures. "It was during my year-long tenure at the production company, that I got intrigued by the art of making soaps for television. So I focused on learning more about television production."

Bhattacharya was then called to be a part of the launch team of Star Ananda - the 24-hours news channel by MCCS, the joint venture between the ABP group and Star India. At Star Ananda, Bhattacharya got a chance to work under Uday Shankar, now the CEO of Star India. "I feel I was very lucky to work with the launch team at Star Ananda as I got to learn a lot about the news business as well the television business in India," reminisces Bhattacharya. Looking back, he thinks that "Star Ananda changed the way the audience in West Bengal consumed news and ended up creating a market for Bengali news channels." After working for three years, he decided to take a break.

During this period, Bhattacharya received a call from his ex-boss Uday Shankar who told him that he was planning to launch a Bengali general entertainment channel. Bhattacharya says, "I was called to launch Star Jalsha. I spearheaded the launch of the channel, including selection of people, the producers and creating a production network."

While conceptualising the channel, Bhattacharya looked for new directors, writers and new concepts. His experience and knowledge of the Bengali television market was his biggest strength. Calling the Star Jalsha launch - a sweet success, he adds, "We began with 92 GRPs and within eight months, we were able to beat the market leader. In less than 2 years we managed to break even."

At Mahuaa TV his first job will be to build the brand. In spite of its popularity, Bhattacharya knows that "the brand Mahuaa does not have much equity in the market, so my task will be to develop the brand. Mahuaa Media has both, GECs as well as news channel. I will get a chance to use my learning to develop Mahuaa as a big brand in the regional space."

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