Discovery ramps up India operations

By , agencyfaqs! | In | November 04, 2000
Discovery Channel has announced the appointment of three new vice-presidents, while indicating the possibility of the launch of a new channel

Prachi Joshi Johar
NEW DELHI, November 4

Discovery Channel, in a major move towards revamping Indian operations, recently announced the appointment of three new vice-presidents. Ashok Ogra and Sanjay Khanna have been promoted from within the organization to the post of vice-president, programming, and vice-president, distribution, respectively. Ambika Srivastava, earlier an executive director with Universal McCann, the media arm of McCann Erickson, has joined Discovery as vice-president, advertising sales and marketing.

Srivastava, after a four-year stint at McCann is all set to face the challenges of what she calls a 'unique content channel'. Speaking about her move, Srivastava said, "I have always been fascinated by the television, especially the content side of the business. And Discovery, with its focus on entertainment as well as commitment to R&D, seemed a very good opportunity to me to get into media as an industry."

Elaborating on the brief given to her, Srivastava added, "My job would be to ensure that Discovery as a brand becomes stronger, and the effort would be to leverage all our first mover advantages to drive up the revenues."

The new vice-president, advertising sales and marketing does not see much of difference between an ad agency and a television channel. "Media will always be partners with the advertisers as the former gets business from the latter. And media provides a platform to advertisers by means of which they build up their brands."

Srivastava's appointment, together with Ogra's and Khanna's promotions assumes significance in view of the plans Discovery has for India. As part of its effort to provide more variety to the Indian audience, Discovery has launched three of their international channels as programming blocks within the main channel. These blocks include Discovery Kids, Discovery Health and Discovery Travel and Adventure, which run as stand-alone channels in other countries. The launch of these blocks can be seen as a precursor to the launch of full-fledged channels later.
Discovery also airs a vernacular block on Vijay TV. In an interview to agencyfaqs!, a month ago, Kiran Karnik, CEO, Discovery Channel, revealed that Tamil is a tentative step towards investing in more languages. The channel has plans to invest $20 million over the next three to four years in developing language software.

Among the proposed new channels, Karnik feels that a health channel has the biggest commercial potential. The channel is also exploring the possibility of when and how it can bring some of its other businesses to India. Karnik told agencyfaqs!, "We have a chain of retail stores in the US that are doing very well. Then there's branded merchandise, publishing etc - which all figure in our long-term plans for India."

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