Is there more to the rejig at Star India?

14 Apr,2016

 

By A Correspondent

 

Ever since a town hall was announced to happen on April 13, there has been a buzz about what it could mean? Was there to be a big acquisition? A high profile exit or entry?

 

We had got our friends in small places at Star India to keep us informed. Whatsapp Zindabad! We even suggested keeping the phone lines on for a listen-in, but that could be dangerous.

 

So what did we finally hear. An organisation rejig with formations of easier-to-manage strategic business units (SBUs) and many elevations. Uday Shankar will be Chairman and CEO. COO Sanjay Gupta, COO was elevated to Managing Director,. Star India and K Madhavan will be Managing Director-South. Both Gupta and Madhavan will continue to report to Shankar. These changes position the organisation to meet its future growth ambitions on the back of a decade of rapid growth, noted a communiqué,  but keen Star India observers hint there could be more to it.

 

“We are proud of its success and look forward to the next chapter of growth under Uday’s transformational leadership,” said James Murdoch, Chief Executive Officer of 21st Century Fox on the developments. Murdoch wasn’t present for the town hall.

 

So here’s how the SBUs will be run, all reporting to Sanjay Gupta:

:: Amit Chopra will be CEO of Entertainment, which spans drama and movie channels across national and regional channels in Hindi, English, Bengali and Marathi. So: Star Plus will have a new CEO
:: Nitin Kukreja, CEO of Sports, which includes a portfolio of channels under the Star Sports banner
:: Ajit Mohan, CEO of Digital, which oversees Hotstar, the digital platform
:: Vijay Singh, CEO of Fox Star Studios, which produces and distributes Bollywood and regional films

 

Meanwhile, Kevin Vaz has been appointed as CEO of South, reporting to K Madhavan. The South business unit incorporates all of Star’s business interests in the Southern states of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Also, a pan-India Content Studio will be set up to drive innovation in programming under Gaurav Banerjee who will report into Sanjay Gupta. The corporate roles will continue unchanged.

 

“I congratulate Sanjay, Madhavan and the CEOs on their elevation. We have set ourselves a bold growth agenda and these changes will deepen the leadership bench, unlock entrepreneurial energy and position Star better to deliver on its ambitions,” said Uday Shankar, Chairman and CEO, Star India.

 

We spoke to a cross-section of stargazers, and while the general sentiment was that it was just a set of elevations and restructuring of the way the business will be done, there were a few notables that deserved a mention.

:: The Murdochs continue to repose their faith in Uday Shankar. So while he has made Chairman, it’s an executive role that he will be essaying as CEO. He’s the boss.
:: Sanjay Gupta is the clear #2. There was no doubting of the fact, but this elevation clearly makes him the operational head of Star India. Of course K Madhavan is there, but he will be look after the Southern operations
:: Great boost for Amit Chopra. He is incharge of the primary fuel of the company: the non-Southern languages entertainment network. This of course includes the all-important Star Plus. Chopra has been leading revenues until so far and has a rich past as a CEO at HT Media and earlier with HUL, so it’s not that he’s a newbie in running an SBU, but, then, Star Plus is a tricky cookie.
:: Elevation for Kevin Vaz, but Star Plus going off rather early from under his charge is sad. He needed to be given more time
:: Status quo for Ajit Mohan, Vijay Singh and Nitin Kukreja
:: Innovation in programming is a good idea, and am sure as Uday Shankar’s trusted and old-time lieutenant Gaurav Banerjee will be entrusted with the responsibility of bringing in more

 

The new structure has been announced, but Shankar has reportedly assigned a six-week window for the transition and handovers. The new financial year for Star India starts in July and with BARC ratings for the flagship channel looking better than before, there is a promise of achche din at Star. Naya Structure. Nayi Ummeed!

 

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