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India Today's division of English and Language businesses leads to senior level restructuring

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | September 24, 2010
While MJ Akbar will be the editorial director of India Today (English and International), Prabhu Chawla will handle a new vertical of the group as editor (languages) and CEO

The India Today Group has announced some changes in its top management, along with the formation of an SBU within Living Media, which will soon become an independent company to address the opportunities in Indian language publishing and related extensions in the regional language domain.

Following this move, all the India Today language brands will be assigned to this corporate entity. The new SBU will be led by Prabhu Chawla, who will be designated editor (languages) and chief executive officer of the vertical. He will also be the consulting editor to Business Today.

Chawla will no longer be the in charge of editorship of India Today - English and International editions, as well as its related extensions, with effect from September 24.

MJ Akbar has been appointed as the editorial director of India Today - English and International editions, as well as related extensions, taking over Chawla's responsibilities at the organisation. Akbar will also have the additional responsibility of Headlines Today as editorial director of the channel.

In an official communiqué, Akbar says, "India Today (English edition) is an iconic publication and I am delighted to be given the mandate to steer it into the future. It will be my endeavour to aggressively address the challenges of the dynamic media landscape and to position the magazine as the most authoritative and credible source of news-led analysis and opinion that will resonate well with the 'new age' reader.

"Likewise, I firmly believe that Indian news television has great untapped potential and it will again be my endeavour to take Headlines Today to greater heights through strong and engaging news television journalism of a different order altogether."

In his new role, Chawla will report to the board of directors, whereas Akbar will report to Aroon Purie, chairperson and editor-in-chief, India Today Group. Purie, in an internal mail to the employees of the India Today Group, says, "As editor of the magazine for the last 14 years, he (Chawla) has done great work in turning it into a weekly from a fortnightly and maintaining its position as India's leading newsmagazine.

"A large part of the future growth in media will come in the language space. To fully realise this potential, we have decided to hive off our language publishing business into a separate company, which will be led by Chawla."

He adds, "As you can see, these are significant changes in the editorial leadership of our group's flagship brands, which I am sure will be transformed by them to meet the challenges of the fast changing world that we live in. They will explore new opportunities, too."

Chawla will continue to be associated with Seedhi Baat on Aaj Tak and will spearhead the group's initiative in setting up a media/journalism institute. He will also continue to lead the group's content archival project and the library resources.

Talking about his new role, Chawla says, "I am a great believer in the Indian language publishing domain and I have seen the rapid growth of language titles in India and within the India Today Group. I am honoured to be given the challenge and an opportunity to scale this business. I see a great future for significantly large and profitable businesses around language content platforms, including digital, events and other non-traditional channels."

His new responsibilities will include handling the business and editorial opportunities of Indian language publishing in an aggressive and focused manner and his efforts will be directed towards growing the existing language publications, as well as launching new language publications in the future. Apart from this, he will also look after the digital opportunities in the language space.

Addressing the changes in the company, which recently celebrated its 35th anniversary, Ashish Bagga, chief executive officer, Living Media, says, "These are some very big and positive changes for the group." He adds that he is confident that the two veterans (Chawla and Akbar) will not only make the existing publications and brands stronger but also make them ready to address the dynamics for the future, in addition to addressing new businesses in the ever growing Indian language market.

Akbar had launched a weekly English newspaper titled The Sunday Guardian in January 2010. Also, he is the chairperson of Covert, a fortnightly news magazine launched in May 2008. In the past, he has also been associated with The Asian Age as founder, editor-in-chief and managing director and has been editor-in-chief of The Deccan Chronicle.

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