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Modi ‘best leader with best policies’: Murdoch

india Updated: Sep 25, 2015 16:13 IST

Hindustan Times
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with media titan Rupert Murdoch (to Modi’s left) in a group picture before a meeting on
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with media titan Rupert Murdoch (to Modi’s left) in a group picture before a meeting on "Media, technology and communication - Growth story for India" in New York.(PTI)

Media baron Rupert Murdoch on Friday described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the “best leader with best policies since (India’s) independence” after meeting him in New York.

“Great hour with Indian PM Modi. Best leader with best policies since independence, but massive task to achieve in most complex nation,” Murdoch said in a tweet.

Murdoch was one of the CEOs of the top media houses who met PM Modi on Thursday at New York’s iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel. They described India as the “biggest market”and called for speedier digitisation of the Indian system, including early expansion of the 4G network, during the one-of-its kind meeting with the Prime Minister.

A statement said they appreciated Modi for “energetic and dynamic leadership” and expressed optimism about the future of India during the meeting wherein the focus was on the role that the media and entertainment industry can play in development and generation of employment opportunities in the country.

The CEOs – representing 40% of the world’s entertainment industry – were enthusiastic about the digital transformation that is taking place in India through the Digital India initiative. They said that the current strong trajectory of the Indian economy makes it at a unique moment to accelerate growth in this sector.

The CEOs present included Murdoch, executive chairman News Corp and 21stCentury Fox; James Murdoch, CEO, 21st Century Fox; Robert Thompson, CEO, News Corp; Uday Shankar, CEO, Star India; David Zaslav, president and CEO, Discovery Communications and Michael Lynton, CEO, Sony Entertainment.

Others present at the round table were Michael Roth, CEO, Interpublic Group of Companies; Shane Smith, CEO, Vice Media; Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP; Jeff Bewkes, CEO, Time Warner; Nancy Dubuc, CEO, A&E Networks; Anthony Pratt, chairman, Visy Industries; William Duhamel, Route One Investment Company and Jeff Ubben, CEO, ValueAct Capital.

“All of them said India is the biggest market for them in terms of the phenomenal growth of the entertainment channels, in terms of the youth in India wanting more such content. They asked for speedier digitisation of the Indian systems,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup told reporters.

Shane Smith for instance said that he wanted as soon as possible rolling of the 4G systems. This is the bandwidth that they need for their program contents to be rolled out and to reach people as fast as possible.

All the CEOs said that India is already a big market for them and they do not have any issues with the existing norms.

“What they wanted was speedier expansion of broad band infrastructure,” he said.

Later, the Prime Minister himself gave an update on his meetings during the packed day.

“Met top American CEOs from media and entertainment sector. They were enthusiastic about the change ‘Digital India’ initiative is driving,” Modi tweeted.

“Digital technology has a vital role in making democracy stronger and in overall human resource development,” he added.

PM Modi also dined with 47 top US CEOs from the Fortune 500 companies on his first day of the high-profile US visit and pitched for stronger inflow of foreign investments into India, outlining continuity in reforms, prompt decisions and transparency as areas of priority.

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