Vikram Chandra: Quietly confident

By Anushree Bhattacharyya , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | September 28, 2011
Sometimes, being in a place for 17 years has its own benefits and values, believes NDTV's new group CEO. It is a belief that took Vikramaditya -- popularly known as Vikram Chandra -- from being a reporter, to his current job profile.

Chandra, who completed his Bachelor's in Economics from Delhi's St Stephen's College, went on to study at the Oxford University on an Inlaks Scholarship. He honed his media skills at Stanford University, where he did a course in Mass Media. "It has been an interesting journey so far, playing different roles," says Chandra.

When he returned to India, the business of private television news hardly existed. His first job in media was with Newstrack in 1991, where he worked as a reporter, and three years later, moved to NDTV. Interestingly, for him, reporting at that time used to be enthralling. Reporters had a month to do a news story!

Chandra reminisces, "Some of the best moments that I had would arguably be the first months as a reporter, when I spent my time running around chasing tantriks, dacoits and terrorists and then on to Kargil, and Charar-e-Sharif (in Kashmir). Those were fun days."

The corporate touch

According to Chandra, his first corporate role happened 10 years ago. "I was made the CEO (chief executive officer) of, and set up the entire convergence business which, today, is a major source of satisfaction as it started off as a website of three or four pages."

Chandra is a digital man. He saw signs of the internet playing a dominant role in the news business as early as in 1998-99.He believes that as the world moves forward, more of it will become digital. More news will be internet-based and choice is going to become very important.

Chandra is of the opinion that the corporate roles played by him are very different to either anchoring or reporting.

However, what urged him to take over the job were certain classic examples of success. "At NDTV, there are good precedents of what I am doing today. For example, (Prannoy) Roy also got into the white-collar job from being an anchor and a host."

Despite getting on to the corporate bandwagon (Chandra has headed the business channel NDTV Profit, and been the CEO of NDTV Networks), he has continued to anchor shows like the Big Fight and Gadget Guru. He explains, "Until now, any corporate role that I have played has been almost secondary to anchoring, especially in the last couple of years. Anchoring has always been the number one preference, by and large."

Top down

All that will change now, as he takes on the group CEO role. Anchoring will definitely have to take a backseat, wont it? "I will continue doing the Big Fight, and one or two more shows as we go forward just to keep myself abreast of what is happening."

And, what are his plans, especially in these tough times for NDTV? Its failure in the try-it-and-see attempt with GEC is well-documented, as is the layoff of staff. NDTV has seen lot of downs in the recent past.

In the new role, Chandra's foremost priority will be to pull the group out of the "bad period that we have been going through. It could be two weeks from now, six months, or even a year. The bad period is about to end, and I want to make sure we are positioned to take advantage of that," he signs off optimistically.

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