Innovative ideas come from all over the world. This time around, it's the Middle East's turn to provide a new service, poised to"¦ rock the boat. Marine BizTV is the first maritime television channel, aiming to bring together the global maritime industry.
Hellenic Shipping News interviewed Mr. Sohan Roy, founder of this new service, who provided us with an insight on the background of this effort and the future steps it aims in doing.
What is the inspiration behind starting Marine BizTV, the world's only maritime television channel?
Throughout my student days to my professional life from being a Naval architect to a Marine engineer to being the CEO of Aries group of companies, I have always maintained a great affinity to arts, media and movie making. The one thing that has always been on my mind during all these years in the maritime industry was the necessity for a certain medium, a medium that was able to reach one and all, a medium that was cost effective and easily accessible to anyoneΒ anytime anywhere, something that would add an extra dimension to print media. Two third of the world is covered by sea and more than 90% of the international trade is done through it. Since Maritime Industry is among the richest industry in the world, manpower and equipment costs too take the higher spectrum when it is considered for the marine sector. Rewarding as it remains, the large benefits and emoluments have not contributed to more people taking up the maritime career or helped maintain a vibrant image for the Industry. Therefore A TV channel totally dedicated the industry was indeed the only solution, but a conventional TV channel wouldn't serve the purpose, I therefore came up with the concept of an equally powerful web portal with WebTV and bundle of tailor-made solution for the industry. The seamless combination of these two mass communication media is what Marine BizTV is today.
Moreover the timing was right. The industry was going through an unprecedented boom, the internet speeds reached a stage conducive for unhindered video streaming and the Maritime World was ready for Marine BizTV.
Marine BizTV is available on sailing ships also. What motivated you to introduce such a concept?
Even though I'm a Naval Architect by profession my professional career started as a Marine Engineer. During the long days of voyage, I experienced the firsthand difficulties in a sailors life. We were not aware of what was happening around the world in those days. Many told me that this as one of the main reasons for their early retirement from sea life. We had no option to attend any distant learning program while sailing. Now with Marine BizTV, I have been able to fill this gap by providing educative and entertaining programs onboard along with training sessions like safety, ISM/ISPS etc.. Our Maritime e-university project will make it possible to attend several career enhancement courses while sailing. Marine BizTV cannot be complete without being available on board sailing vessels.
How does Marine BizTV work?
Marine BizTV works as a common platform for the entire Maritime Community to meet each other, share information and to improve business opportunities.Β Fortysix maritime organizations with more than 50000 members have joined as its viewers. We are in a process of reaching the target figure of 365 organizations and one million decision makers by the end of 2009. Each and every individual WebTV user is provided with a unique password sponsored by various maritime establishments and the end user doesn't incur any cost for accessing Marine BizTV either on Web or on Satellite, as it's also a free to air TV channel. Our official website www.marinebiztv.comΒ has become the most visited website among all maritime websites in such a short span.
On the organizational front we have invested heavily in a well manned R & D department, which is the origin for many of the unique products available only through us. R & D along with WebTV, Production House and Marketing are the pillars of Marine BizTV.
What's the difference between Satellite TV and Marine Biz TV? How often is the content updated? Are there any plans for enhancing this service?
Marine BizTV is more than a normal TV Channel. Satellite TV platform through Hotbird 6(Ku Band) /Thaicom 5(C Band) is just utilized for access to general public and sailing ships. Professionals and students hard pressed for time or corporate entities seeking tailor-made solutions can access this channel from anywhere in the world through the internet at www.marinebiztv.com, where both live and archived programs are available. Infact this is the only 24hrs TV channel in the world with a facility for watching any program broadcast over the last year through video on demand facility. This is also the only TV channel where interaction with the registered viewers is done on a regular basis through mails, SMS and call centre. The contents are updated on a daily basis. We are in a process of increasing fresh and quality contents in proportion to increasing viewership.
Which are the other areas of marine/maritime business, which you concentrate on other than Marine BizTV?
Our core business is Ship Design and Consultancy. With more than 150 Engineering Staff, we work 24/7 for more than 750 clients worldwide. Our UT Gauging division is the largest in the world and we run the only institute in the world to train UT Gauging inspectors professionally under pre-employment training system. We are also into Interior Designs, NDT services, Material Testing, Project Management, Marine Surveys, Maritime Technical Training and Tourism.
What do you think is the role of visual media in a maritime sector? How do you think it can enhance the present scenario?
Nanotechnology is conquering the world. The Grid system or wireless mesh systems will replace satellite communication with World Wide Web reaching many times more speed. Information Technology is all set for a revolutionary change. A Maritime audio visual medium should make use of the potential of information technology and visual media to build a common platform for the entire maritime community both for information sharing and business development. The conventional method of marketing is no more relevant for product promotion in a world where the technology is integrated and subjected to frequent changes as is the case with the Maritime sector. Due to the emergence of new marketing hubs and shift of marine market trends, business equations may change and tight competition for existence are anticipated in the near future. Professional Marketing tools are mandatory to overcome such a situation and such a well set up Audio visual communication medium has the potential to work as a supporting arm and as a guiding star. This may be the reason why Marine BizTV was nominated for the "Most Innovative Concept of the Year' in Seatrade Middle East Awards 2007.
Are there any other innovative plans/projects you intend for the future? Something like a dream project?
Our development plans for the next 3 years are already in place. Marine BizTV has more than 30 sub projects like International Maritime Expo, E-University, Virtual Exhibition, Marine Biz Alert, Video Bay, Marine Shots, Biz Dollar, Video Resume, MViD, Events Calendar, Corporate Press Box, Shoot"n"Share etc. We are fully concentrating on these for its success and do not intend to deviate from it until we reach our target.
However, we have a dream project "“ a Hollywood venture- "DAM" in which half of the actors are to be auditioned from the maritime Industry, with a vision of promoting the positive aspects of sea life among common public. Through the movie DAM we are also trying to popularize a concept of setting up Marine Cities around the world where mariners stay, study and work together, which would be our next Dream project.
Being a naval architect, would you plan to start a maritime institute to promote the upcoming generation?
We are already working on the Maritime e-university concept by bringing the entire maritime institutes in the world under one umbrella. All such institutes will be able to provide online certification courses to global community under e-university. A maritime Cultural Olympics have been announced by Marine BizTV to bring various maritime institutes on a common platform and promote interaction and exchange. Library sharing, Common Placement Cell, Integrated Syllabus, Industry Sponsored Scholarships, Student Exchange Programs, Centralized Quality Evaluation System etc. would be some of the features of e-university.
Having conquered the marine world through your unique and innovative ventures, would you plan to build a ship in the future?
As the largest Ship Designers in Middle East we work as designers and project managers to build ships for others. However as a part of our R&D projects, we have built two innovative products BOTEL and Aries Snake Boat. BOTEL (Back Water Operated Tourist Entertainment Launch) is the first Solar Powered House Boat in the world for which we got a nomination for Prestigious Seatrade Awards. Aries Snake Boat is the longest snake boat in the world (142ft) made of steel and has entered the Guinness Book of World Records. We are interested in building these kind of innovative products only for R&D purposes, to pique the curiosity of our team and test the limits of their prudence.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide