15 October 1949
|Occupation||Executive co-chairperson, NDTV|
|Awards||Asian Television Award; Red Ink Awards|
Prannoy Roy (born 15 October 1949) is an Indian economist, chartered accountant, psephologist, journalist and author. He is the executive co-chairperson of NDTV and is considered to be one of its co-founders, along with his wife Radhika Roy. NDTV was the first independent news network in India. Prannoy Roy is also credited for pioneering opinion polls in the country.
Prannoy Roy was born in Calcutta, West Bengal on 15 October 1949, to P. L. "Hurricane" Roy, a Bengali executive at a multinational corporation in the city. His paternal grandfather was Paresh Lal Roy, a traffic superintendent and an amateur boxer, known as the "father of Indian boxing" for having popularised the sport in the country. Paresh Lal gave his grandson Prannoy the nickname of "Tempest" when he was a child.
Roy was sent to The Doon School, a boy's boarding school in Dehradun, Uttar Pradesh. He was at the boarding school during his teenage years when he met Radhika Das, whom he would later marry. Radhika, the daughter of a Bengali engineer was also from the city of Calcutta and was sent to the Welham Girls' School, another boarding school in Dehradun. 
Prannoy and Radhika moved to London, United Kingdom for their higher education. Prannoy had received a Haileybury and Imperial Service College scholarship to acquire the A-level higher secondary certificate. Following his schooling, he enrolled at the Queen Mary University of London and graduated in 1973 with first class honours in economics. He then became a certified chartered accountant and a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales in 1975. Prannoy and Radhika also got married in London and then returned to India, settling down in Delhi.
In India, Prannoy continued his studies at the Delhi School of Economics from where he attained a PhD in agricultural economics in 1978. Following his doctorate, Roy became a consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers India where he worked from 1979 till 1983. Roy is described to have been passionate about election results since his childhood and had produced his first election forecast for the 1977 Indian general election. The forecast was published by the Mainstream magazine and had predicted a victory for the Janata Party. In the 1980s, he began collaborated with the Oxford political scientist David Butler and Indian economist Ashok Lahiri in an effort to mainstream the field of psephology in India. The collaboration produced three book and Roy became an election analysts for the India Today magazine. For the 1984 Indian general election, Roy produced an extremely accurate election forecast which predicted an Indian National Congress victory with 400 seats. The prediction earned him the reputation of being the most successful psephologist in India. Roy is credited for pioneering opinion polling in India between 1980 and 1995.
New Delhi Television Ltd (NDTV) was founded in 1984 as a production firm for international news broadcasters and the public service broadcaster Doordarshan. Radhika and Prannoy Roy are considered to be the co-founders of the company, however Prannoy states that Radhika was the original founder as he joined the company later. Radhika Roy was working as a journalist at The Indian Express and then at the India Today magazine before becoming the founder of NDTV. Doordarshan was initially wary of allowing private production houses to cover domestic news, and NDTV was contracted to produce a weekly international news programme called The World This Week for the public broadcaster. The weekly was instant success among its Indian audience and attained one of the highest viewerships on Doordarshan.
Prannoy Roy in the meantime worked as an associate professor for an year in 1985 at the Delhi School of Economics. In 1986–1987 he was hired in a team of economists to build a macro-econometric model of India for the Ministry of Finance, the model is the largest of its kind. Doordarshan eventually contracted NDTV to cover the general election results and budget session specials. The first televised coverage of an election result in India was produced by NDTV for the 1989 Indian general election. Roy began his career as a television journalist by covering the general election for Doordarshan. Following which, he also began appearing as a news presenter in The World This Week programme. Both the election results coverage and the international news show were widely successful. According to Roy, it was not difficult to appear good in comparison to Doordarshan which he described as more radio than television and that the time period was the most "newsiest" in television history.
NDTV requested for and received a contract from Doordarshan to produce a daily news bulletin on domestic affairs called The News Tonight on its second channel in 1995. The Roys who were the promoters of the company sought and acquired investments from several Indian businesses for the company in order to produce the show, among its investors was the multinational Tata Group. Later, the company also received contracts to produce shows such as The News Hour and Good Morning India for Doordarshan. Prannoy Roy was the news presenter for the NDTV bulletins and became the face of the NDTV brand in the process. His wife, Radhika Roy kept a low profile in comparison, being more invested in the editorial and production processes of the company.
In 1998, NDTV entered into a 5 year exclusive partnership with Star India to launch the country's first independent 24x7 news channel. In the previous year, the incumbent director general of Doordarshan had also quit the public broadcaster and jointed it's multinational rival, the Star network. These developments created animosity in the government and a parliamentary committee was set up to scrutinise the activities of the former director general which alleged that there were "irregularities" in the contracts with NDTV. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a number of cases against former officials of the public broadcaster including the director general and against Prannoy Roy who was the managing director of NDTV. The cases went on for several years in the form of a protracted conflict, until a court judgement in 2013 which acquitted all the accused of the charges, stating that there was no evidence of any wrongdoing.
Radhika Roy who was the chairperson of the company became the managing director in 1998 and Prannoy Roy who was the managing director became the chairman. The partnership with Star India came to an end in 2003. NDTV became an independent news broadcaster in the same year with the launch of two news channels NDTV 24x7 and NDTV India. The company went public in May 2004 and by the end of the year had the highest market capitalisation among media companies. Roy along with his wife were designated as the executive co-chairpersons of NDTV after 2011.
NDTV started facing government pressure through litigations and intimidation of advertisers on the network after Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014. The pressure was noted to be a part of diminishing media freedom in the country with similar tactics used against uncooperative news publications. The news network of NDTV had reported critically about state involvement in the 2002 Gujarat riots where over a 1,000 people were killed. The government attempted to ban the Hindi news channel NDTV India in 2016 and retracted following backlash including cross media protests from journalists. In 2017, the residence of the Roys at Greater Kailash, Delhi were raided by the CBI, after a NDTV journalist had questioned statements made by a ruling party spokesperson. The Editor's Guild of India and journalists unions called it an attack on press freedom.
In 2019, Prannoy Roy collaborated with the psephologist Dorab Sopariwala and published a book called The Verdict: Decoding India’s Elections. Meanwhile the litigations surrounding NDTV continued and in June, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) barred Prannoy and Radhika Roy from holding managerial or board positions in the company for a period of 2 years over alleged withholding of information in loan agreements. The order was appealed against and stayed by the Securities Appellate Tribunal (SAT). In December 2020, SEBI imposed a fine on the Roys worth ₹27 crore (US$3.6 million). SAT directed the Roys to deposit 50% of the sum as conditional to a second hearing. The company moved to the Supreme Court of India (SCI) which exempted them from the deposits. Justice Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud remarked that it was "brash" for the tribunal to have demanded it.
His academic awards include the Leverhulme Trust (UK) Fellowship, Queen Mary Prize for results at BSc and an OPOS Scholarship at the Doon School to study at Haileybury College.
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