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American media companies turn to India

American media companies turn to India

In my book, Doing Business in 21st Century India, I highlighted how media mogul Rupert Murdoch (CEO of News Corp) extolled India over China, even though he’s married to a Chinese woman who runs his China operations.  I also pointed out how India, unlike China, does not censor American media. This means that American media has a huge and growing opportunity in India.

This week, the Gray Lady, aka the New York Times, has come to the same conclusion, over two years after I wrote my chapter. Tim Arongo writes on May 3rd:

“In recent weeks, America Online shut its operations in China, for the second time. Warner Brothers, the movie studio that shares a corporate parent with AOL in Time Warner, had plans as recently as 2006 to open more than 200 retail stores throughout China, with a local partner. Today there are no such plans.”

I attended the Asia Society annual dinner last year and Viacom founder/CEO Sumner Redstone talked about the China opportunity and about entertaining top China officials at his billionaire pad in Beverly Hills. But as the New York Times noted this week, “CNN International is available only in hotels that cater to foreign business travelers and in embassies.” and Redstone’s  “MTV China, … reaches only about 14 million homes in the Guangdong Province.”

Viacom, meanwhile, made a significant investment in India last year with Colors, which has become the top-rated entertainment network lately. According the the Times, MTV India reached 30 million homes, twice that of its Chinese counterpart.

For Western companies the lessons of this go beyond revenues opportunities for the big media players. American media influences attitudes in India and ultimately creates demand for American products and services.  This is the big takeaway.

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