afaqs!

TV movements are harmful for journos

By , agencyfaqs! | In | April 30, 2001
It's the new game in town - channel-surfing. It's partly due to new channels, partly due to the Net and partly due to the response from the established channels


New channels, new programming genres, new marketing tactics - poll a random sample of media practitioners and they come out with these as the defining characteristics of Indian television in the recent past. I would like to add one, and right at the beginning, please - people. It's the new game in town - channel-surfing. It's partly due to new channels, partly due to the Net and partly due to the response from the established channels. It may blow the logic out of your senses but truth is, people seem to change faster in this industry than you can say DTH.

Moreover, even if people stay put, it is not often that their roles and responsibilities do. You'd say, so is the case with professionals across industries. Try asking the executives at STAR. What it means for a journalist is a usual round of cross-checking on designations. That perhaps explains why media executives remain so pissed off with direct-mail companies (and vice-versa)! You might think I am exaggerating things here or being too harsh on what seems like a harmless human-resource issue. Truth is, it is harsh on one set of humans - journalists like me.

Take the channel surfers first. Deepak Shourie, ex-CEO, Zee Telefilms, is taking charge at Discovery Communications India as managing director. He replaces Kiran Karnik who leaves the company in May. Sometime in mid-2000, Ashok Ogra and Sanjay Khanna were promoted to the post of vice-president, programming, and vice-president, distribution, respectively at Discovery.

Then there was Nine Gold, which started operations last year by pulling Sony's programming head, Ravina Raj Kohli. Rekha Nigam replaced her. Nine Gold also picked up Jaideep Grewal, head of marketing at CHannel [V]. Anupama Mandloi, vice-president, programming, at the newly-launched SABe TV, moved on to Sony. Deep Drona, head of sales at SABe, followed suit. SABe, which lost about seven people, including two CEOs in a year, also saw its head of marketing, Sanjay Raina, leave for Discovery Communications.

Meanwhile Pradipto Sircar, associate director, South Asia, Discovery India, joined TARA two months back. Sandeep Singh, in-charge of sales at ETC, came in Raina's place at SABe. In fact, ETC Networks was another group that saw about six senior exits during late 2000. Sunil Sejwani, programming head, left for Reliance four months back. Romi Didichandani, VP, sales, left for B4U. Sisir Pillai, distribution head, joined Nimbus. General Anand, president, InCablenet, took over as CEO of Reminiscent India Television (better know by their twin channels, Lashkara and Gurjari).

Zee didn't have any respite either. Sandip Guha Thakurta, former in-charge of Zee's international sales, joined Sanjay Khan's Numero Uno Productions few months back. Satish Menon was handed additional charge of Zee Sports while having been involved with Zee News and the Urdu channel, UTN. Nitin Vaidya, who had joined Tara Marathi as CEO from Zee News, quit two weeks back for Alpha Marathi.

While new channels absorbed and shed people, established players restructured and existing employees took on new roles. Sameer Nair, senior executive vice-president (programming), STAR, will now head a new division called "content and communication". He will also look after marketing of the programmes. Vikram Sakhuja, executive vice-president (marketing), who had moved from Coke to STAR earlier this year, will now be a part of Nair's team. Sumantro Dutta, executive vice-president (advertisement & sales), STAR Plus, will move to the newly formed radio division of STAR. Jagdish Kumar, executive vice-president (corporate) will be part of the STAR's DTH team. L S Nayak, executive vice-president, will take care of advertising and sales across the whole network. Shankar Narayan, CFO, STAR, will take on additional responsibility of HR, legal and accounting while Kaushal Dalal will be in charge of business development.

A big chunk of movements comprises people switching fields - either moving out of broadcasting to the Net or to other fields, or moving into television from other fields. Right from Sunil Lulla's move from MTV to indya.com and Jayesh Vaidya's journey from Discovery to chaitime.com. Last year, Anu Babber quit his job as all-India sales head for National Geographic to move to webdunia.com. He was joined by Manas Mohan as the marketing head from Discovery.

Zee Sports' Raghvendra Agarwal moved to an Internet start-up as COO. Colgate's Sukumaran, who had joined Adnova as CEO, moved on to Reliance. ETC's head of Internet initiatives left last December. Jaideep Shetty, who had left BBC to join indya.com in 1999 headed for Reliance Infocom late last year. Mahesh Murthy, former consultant with CHannel [V], began funding dot-coms. CHannel [V]'s creative spine, Shashanka Ghosh, left to float a production house. Ashu Dutt, who quit as SABe TV's CEO recently, was CEO (convergence) at indiainfo.com. He is again moving to a new field - executive-search.

Similarly, among people who poured on to television from other fields is Sandeep Goyal. The former President of Rediffusion joins Zee as group CEO. Rakesh Sapru, vice-president (business development), GE Capital, joined SABe as CEO in early 2000 and left for Reliance late last year. Ambika Srivastava, executive director with Universal McCann, joined Discovery as vice-president, advertising, sales and marketing in the later half of 2000. Bindu Sharma, VP, The Pioneer, joined Nimbus as director, news and current affairs, three months back. Pratibha Vinayak came into Sony as VP, marketing services, from Fulcrum. Abraham Thomas, sales head at Sony, has moved in from the Indian Express. Vikram Mehra came to STAR to head web sales from Telco. Arvind Vinayak, a teacher on media-planning, is consulting RITV.

Among people who moved out to other field were Soumitro Mukherjee and Ambika Kuthiala. The former was director, marketing with B4U before he moved to Sony. Kuthiala, senior VP, programming, SABe, joined Wizcraft.

There are some whose intentions remain either undisclosed or unclear. Prominent among them being Kiran Karnik, Uday Sinhwala (fomer CEO, Nimbus) and Suresh Bala (former managing director, CHannel [V]).

And then there are those who came back home. Manish Popat, chief of airtime sales, UTV, who left in late 1999 along with Noshir Desai, chief executive officer of United Studios, to return this year after helping Numero Uno Productions. And yes, Zee News's Rohit Bansal, after a PR stint, is back as brand manager.

Give me a break.

© 2001 agencyfaqs!