News Corporation restructures its Asian broadcast businesses into three units

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | August 19, 2009
STAR India, STAR Greater China and Fox International Channels to hold leading positions in their target markets

News Corporation has announced the restructuring of its Asian broadcast businesses. As per the restructuring, STAR India, STAR Greater China and Fox International Channels (FIC) will hold important positions in their respective markets.

The new structure will help the three units come closer to their viewers, improve operational efficiency, and at the same time, benefit the advertisers.

& #BANNER1 & #After the restructuring, STAR India will manage the sales and distribution of News Corporation channels in India, a total of 19 channels in eight languages. Besides, STAR India will be responsible for managing the joint ventures formed by the group, including DTH operator, Tata Sky and cable system, Hathway; channel distributor, STAR Den; news channel operator, MCCS; the south Indian broadcast business of Asianet channels and STAR Vijay; film producer and distributor, Fox STAR Studios India and STAR CJ, the Home Shopping channel.

This change is aimed at supporting the growth of the units -- STAR India, STAR Greater China and FIC -- and will also result in a reduction in the size of the company's regional operations in Hong Kong by deploying resources to local markets.

Following the shift in the responsibilities from Hong Kong, Paul Aiello will step down from the role of chief executive officer of STAR. He will leave the company by the end of December 2009. Uday Shankar, CEO of STAR India and John Lau, president, China and Taiwan, STAR will both report to James Murdoch.

FIC will be managed by Ward Platt, president, Asia, and Zubin Gandevia, COO, Asia. Platt will report to David Haslingden, CEO, Fox International Channels and National Geographic Channels Worldwide.

Shankar, who has been with STAR India since April 2007, has been given the additional responsibility of overseeing STAR's sales and distribution offices in the Middle East, the UK and the US. He will also handle the sales and distribution of all Fox channels in India.

By giving STAR India maximum control over sales and operations of 19 channels and joint ventures across the country, New Corporation has finally addressed the long standing issue with its India operations.

The channels which will fall under the realm of STAR India are: STAR Plus, STAR One, STAR News, STAR Ananda, STAR Majha, STAR Utsav, STAR Jalsha, STAR Pravah, STAR Gold, Channel V India, STAR World, STAR Movies, STAR Vijay, Asianet, Asianet Plus, Sitara, Fox Crime, Suvarna and FX.

Also, as part of the restructuring process, FIC will take STAR World, STAR Movies, Channel V International and Fox and National Geographic channels under its wing, for distribution in the rest of Asia, creating a television network with 37 channels under 17 channel brands.

In addition, FIC will be responsible for the regional distribution of the STAR India and STAR Greater China channels outside their home markets in Asia and continue to distribute its channels in the Middle East.

In an official communiqué, James Murdoch, chairman and chief executive, Europe and Asia, News Corporation, says, "Since launching with only five channels in 1991, STAR has grown in scale and made a valuable contribution to broadcasting in Asia. We are now reshaping a big, regional organisation into three highly focussed business units, each of which will be intensely competitive in its target marketplace. While it was once natural to have a larger, regional headquarters, the company has now reached a scale in its key local markets where we are ready to empower the teams on the ground and move a number of functions to be closer to viewers."

News Corporation has also decided to establish an office in Hong Kong, which will be responsible for supporting the group's interests in the region and will also handle the joint ventures including ESPN STAR Sports. It will carry out business development, legal, government affairs and corporate communications functions, with each function reporting directly to the corresponding functional heads in London.

According to the group, the combination of STAR and FIC has been done to provide a platform for the latter to expand its portfolio in Asia from the current four brands to eight by next year.