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BW Businessworld

The Media And Entertainment Heiress

Ayushman Baruah profiles, Kavya Maran, the inheritor of the Sun Group

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Born in 1992, Kavya Maran is the only daughter (read heiress) of media baron Kalanithi Maran who owns the largest TV network in Asia - the Sun Network and is pegged at a net worth of $4 billion. The Sun Network began by broadcasting Tamil programs for three hours in ATN Channel under the title of Sun TV. With gradual increase in its popularity, the Sun TV network proliferated to 24-hour media channels in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam and Bengali languages.

The entertainment and news revolution that dawned with the arrival of satellite TV has thrown up many successful entrepreneurs. But it is only two home grown entrepreneurs who have crafted successful and profitable domains in both the news and entertainment space. One is Subhash Chandra of Zee Network and the other is Kalanithi Maran of Sun Network. While son Puneet Goenka is gradually taking over the reins from Subhash Chandra, the low profile and still very young is learning the ropes of managing a complex and challenging media and entertainment empire from her father.

Currently, Sun Network has spread its wings across international markets including Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, South Africa, and US. This company was listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange on April 2004 and raised $133 million.

24-year-old Kavya hails from a political-business family. In June 2010, her father entered into the aviation industry by acquiring a 37.75 percent stake in low-cost carrier SpiceJet for Rs 750 crore. He eventually took this to 75 per cent. In a year, he seemed to turn around the airline's fortunes but re-sold it to the original promoters five years later. He co-owns Sun Direct, a Direct-To-Home (DTH) service along with Astro Group, which has 4.5 million subscribers.

Her father's political background was just as strong - son of former Union Minister of Commerce Murasoli Maran, brother of former Textile Minister Dayanidhi Maran, and grand-nephew of former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M. Karunanidhi.

Today, Kavya is the boss at Sun Music, FM business of Sun Television Network. She comes with a strong background in media, entertainment and the aviation sector. Over time, she is expected to spearhead the entire SUN businesses.

Apart from that, Kavya is also known for her link with Hyderabad IPL Team. It should be noted that her father had bought this IPL team two years back. In recent times, the Marans have faced a bit of heat. There have been a series of allegations even though the courts seem to have cleared the family members of many of the charges. Most of the allegations are linked to the time when Dayanidhi Maran was the telecom minister of India. Some analysts think that adversity would be the best teacher for Kavya as she gradually moves towards the room at the corner. The party to which her uncle belongs, the DMK has been out of power in the state of Tamil Nadu since 2006. Even at the center, the DMK was a part of the ministry almost uninterrupted since 1996. But since it was a part of the Congress led UPA for two terms, it is now an opposition party at the center.

But beyond the specter of politics, these are interesting times ahead for Kavya as the digital revolution underway threatens to up end the old and traditional business models in the media and entertainment industry. Perhaps her stint at Sun Music, a segment most impacted by the digital revolution will teach her valuable lessons for the future.