Flashback 2010: The shuffling in print, radio and television media

By Biprorshee Das , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media | January 10, 2011
The year witnessed significant appointments in the print, radio and television media as well; in particular the print medium that saw appointments in the marketing division among others and radio stations that made several changes at the helm as well

Print, radio and television media had a movement-packed year. Print, in particular, witnessed significant movements in the sales and marketing department. In radio (FM stations), BIG FM saw a lot of senior level appointments in the first and second quarters of the year.


In the news was Dinesh K Srivastava who moved out of Delhi Press group early in the year. Srivastava was the group business manager and was responsible for national business activities. He ended a 28-year-long association with the group and moved to Eastern Panorama, an English language general interest magazine as VP, marketing.

RPG Group's Open magazine roped in R Rajmohan as publisher. Rajmohan moved in from Images Consumer Media Group replacing Umesh Kumar who quit the company last year. With more than 20 years of experience, Rajmohan has been associated with The Times of India, India Today, Hindustan Times and Outlook Group, besides Images Consumer Media.

According to him, Open was an exciting challenge. "The biggest challenge ahead was to build brand awareness, which through our marketing campaign carried out in June was successfully taken care of," he says.

In the same quarter, Raj Chengappa was appointed as editor-in-chief of The Tribune Group of Publications replacing H K Dua. Chengappa, who was the managing editor, India Today, ended an association that lasted almost 30 years.

Hindustan Media Ventures appointed Dhiraj Soni as head of marketing for its Hindi daily, Hindustan. Soni had replaced Gowri Satyamoorthy. But later in July he left the company and was replaced by Rajesh Kumar, who came from Ogilvy & Mather (O&M), in November.

Staying in the news, HT Media lost its chief marketing officer, Neelanjan Shome, who quit the group after spending three years. At HT Media, he was responsible for managing the group's assets in print, radio and the internet.

Shome had earlier spent close to a decade with PepsiCo where he was responsible for starting up PepsiCo's non-carbonated division in the Asia-Pacific and also handled the brand marketing for the beverage brands of the company in the region. He has also worked with Young & Rubicam, Indonesia and Lintas India.


Among the other significant appointments during the period included S Balasubramanian who was named head of marketing, new media at Dinamalar, the Tamil daily. Balasubramanian joined the daily from where he was the senior vice-president, ad sales.

Dipayan Chowdhury was promoted to executive vice-president, revenues at DNA. With the newspaper since five years, Chowdhury was heading its Delhi branch. He has also worked with other newspapers such as the Anandbazar Patrika (ABP) and Business Standard.

In radio, Big FM named Priya Krishna as its Chennai station head. Krishna returned to Big FM for a second stint from SS Music where she was the regional sales head, South. The station also elevated Viplove Gupte to the position of national programming head from associate VP, programming and roped in Soumen Ghosh Choudhury as the national business head.

While Gupte is responsible for the programming strategy devising the creative mix, Choudhury looks after the business aspects of the FM business across the channel's 45-station network in the country.

The big news, however, came from NDTV when Raj Nayak, along with his team quit NDTV Media to launch a new media company, AIDEM Ventures. He entered into a fresh arrangement with NDTV, wherein the latter would outsource the ad sales services to Nayak's new company but on renegotiated terms of engagement.

Set up in November 2002, NDTV Media was responsible for the sales of media companies such as NDTV, Sahara One, Filmy, UFO Digital Cinema and Firangi. On the digital front, it handled the India sales for Facebook, Microsoft Advertising, MSN, MSN Video, MSN Mobile as well as Bollywood Hungama and

However, hit by the recession bug, sales were under pressure during 2008-09. And with a fall in the advertising revenues for NDTV, the commissions paid to NDTV Media also decreased. Meanwhile, NDTV Group renegotiated business arrangements with NDTV Media, because of which commissions to NDTV Media reduced as well. Also, NDTV Media, the company, could not take up competitive businesses and Nayak realised that people did not see NDTV Media as neutral and it lost new business opportunities, which then led to him moving on to launch AIDEM.


The period, April to June, began with DNA appointing Deva Dutta as vice-president, revenues in Bengaluru. Dutta joined DNA from The Printers (Mysore) where he was head of national advertising sales, circulation and HR.

Talking about his appointment, Dutta says that DNA is a promising paper with innovative content and bets on his experience to contribute to the future of the company. With over 27 years of experience in the media industry, Dutta has spent 20 years of his career with the ABP Group.

The period also saw Rajiv Jaitly moving from The Indian Express after a year. He was president, marketing, at the company. Jaitly has 24 years of experience spent across sectors such as media, FMCG and telecom. Prior to joining The Indian Express, Jaitly was associated with Bhaskar Group as president, marketing and ad sales, where he spent a little more than a year.

Jaitly's role at The Indian Express was taken up by Dinesh Gulati who joined as executive vice-president. Gulati moved in from Etisalat where worked for over a year. In a career spanning two decades, Gulati has handled various responsibilities including managing a profit centre, marketing, finance, sales and customer service. He was also associated with Reliance Communications for around six years. The last position he held at the company was that of CEO, West.

There were many senior media professionals who moved out to start their own entrepreneurial set-ups. Jiggy George quit Cartoon Network as executive director, South Asia in 2009 after an association of eight years. George set up of his own entertainment company called Dream Theatre in June, bagging the licensing rights for Warner Brothers, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and Chorion.

George has more than 15 years of experience in marketing, sales and the licensing industry. "With my cross functional experience, I think it was about time I did this. Dream Theatre began with two purposes - representing other brands and building our own brand. Both objectives have been met," he says.

On the radio front, Synergy Media Entertainment's My FM promoted Harrish M Bhatia as CEO. Bhatia, till then was the COO at the radio station. He had joined My FM since the station's launch in 2007 as business head.

Bhatia, while saying that 2010 had been rather good for the station, argues that from an industry perspective, a lot more needs to done. "The challenges before the industry remain. After Phase II, there has been almost nothing that has been done for radio by the government and while the year ahead seems promising unless the government takes serious steps ahead, the industry will face a tough time," he says.

Big FM continued with its senior level appointments bringing on board Paikar Jamal as the programming head, Delhi. With 13 years of industry experience, Jamal has worked with radio brands across the country and international markets. Prior to joining Big FM, she was with Arabian Radio Network (a network of international FM stations) working in the capacity of senior producer.

Anuj Gandhi resigned from his post as the CEO of Den Networks. Gandhi had joined the company in September 2007 and had played an important role in making Den Networks one of the important multi-system operators (MSOs) in India. However, Gandhi continues to be the director in Den's TV distribution company and still serves as an advisor of the company and its joint venture entities.


In the third quarter of the year, another senior employee of Open magazine decided to exit. The editor-in-chief of the magazine, Sandipan Deb decided to call it quits. Deb was associated with the magazine since its launch for over two and a half years. Before joining Open, he was with Outlook magazine.

Deb was replaced by Manu Joseph who became the new editorial head. "We have had a great relationship with Sandipan and he remains a friend. Fortunately, there was no immediate gap on his leaving. Manu has been a part of the core team and we did not really have to look outside to fill the gap," says R Rajmohan.

Around the same time, Ayaz Memon who had quit DNA joined IMN News (formerly NewsX) as consulting editor. At DNA, Memon was editor-at-large and later continued as columnist. Noting that TV was a different medium from print, Memon says the move has proved to be a learning experience. "I had been involved with the television medium intermittently. After Jehangir Pocha had spelt out his ideas for a recast channel, I thought it afforded an interesting new challenge," he says.

India Today moved into restructuring mode announcing changes in its top management along with the formation of an SBU within Living Media to address the opportunities in Indian language publishing and related extensions in the regional language domain.

Prabhu Chawla was designated the editor (languages) and chief executive officer of the SBU along with being consulting editor to Business Today. Before the development, Chawla was in charge of editorship of India Today - English and international editions, as well as its related extensions.

MJ Akbar took over Chawla's responsibilities at India today as editorial director along with the added responsibility of Headlines Today as editorial director of the channel. Akbar reports to Aroon Purie, chairperson and editor-in-chief, India Today Group. However, after a few days of this development, Chawla left the group to join The New Indian Express Group as its editor-in-chief.

Another interesting move came when Colors' marketing head, Rameet Arora, decided to move on. Arora's next destination was the fast food major McDonald's - he joined as senior director. Arora, who headed the marketing function for Colors ever since the launch of the channel, is considered to be one of the key people who drove the channel's success story.

On his move, Arora says, "My stint with launching Colors was easily the most exciting thing I could have hoped for. But as a marketer, a challenge to grow one of the world's most famous brands in India was 'unputdownable'. I am happy to have expanded my horizons with McDonald's."

Arora began his career in advertising in 1996 and has worked in agencies such as Rediffusion-Y&R, McCann Erickson. Prior to joining Colors, he had worked for more than eight years at Leo Burnett where among other brands, he also worked on McDonald's.


Major developments in the print sector in the final quarter of the year included Niranjan Vidyasagar's elevation to the post of head, digital business at Mid-Day Infomedia. Vidyasagar who has been associated with Mid-Day for over five years replaced Nirvan Biswas.

The Economist roped in Mahesh Nambiar as sales director, India towards the end of the year. He joined the weekly newspaper from MSM (erstwhile Sony Entertainment Television) where, during his five-year stint, he was responsible for heading all-India sales for AXN.

At The Economist, Nambiar's mandate is to increase the market share in the domestic newspaper ad space and to use his experience to develop the international ad market as well.

Besides MSM, Nambiar has also worked at STAR India for seven years as senior manager and has had stints at India and Eastern Engineers and Bennett, Coleman & Co (BCCL).

FM stations too witnessed some significant changes at the senior management level. Rana Barua formally took charge at Red FM as business head in November. Barua, who spent four years at Radio City as the executive vice-president and programming head, had put in his papers earlier in the year.

Barua says his decision was prompted by the fact that Red FM was a part of a much larger network. Like Bhatia, Barua too sees trying times ahead for FM radio with licensing issues, rolling out of Phase III and even news broadcasting.

Big FM made another addition to its senior management team with Sunil Sahjwani taking over as national programming director. At the helm of the creative programming team spread across the country, Sahjwani works with the corporate team on the programming strategy, its execution and sales enables.

An ex-advertising professional, Sahjwani is also known to have played an instrumental role in launching Channel V in India.

With over 20 years of experience, he has worked in the creative function at companies such as RK Swamy BBDO, Percept Picture Company and Genesis, among others.
Before joining Big FM, Sahjwani was with the BCCL group as chief creative consultant where he was responsible for revamping Zoom and offering creative insights to Radio Mirchi.

Other significant developments included the elevation of Neeraj Chaturvedi within the HT Media group. Chaturvedi, who was the chief operating officer (North and East) at Fever FM, was promoted to the position of head, solutions marketing team, HT Media.

Having joined Fever 104 FM in 2006, Chaturvedi has also had worked with Tata Administrative Services where he spent almost a decade.

Much like the first quarter's big news, the media fraternity was in for another big surprise in the final one as well. Conflict of interest and overlap led to the much talked about Sameer Manchanda-Raghav Bahl split after an association of five years.

Manchanda, the man who helped set up IBN18 Broadcast along with Rajdeep Sardesai for the Network18 group, decided to resign as joint managing director of the company in October. Simultaneously, Bahl, founder and managing director of Network18, quit from the board of DEN Networks, the cable distribution firm established by Manchanda.

While Manchanda cited the need to focus on his own venture, Den, as the reason for this 'break-up', the move, according to industry experts, was prompted because of TV18 decision to walk into a distribution agreement with the Sun TV group to form Sun18 that would distribute 33 channels. These also included Network18's group of channels such as Colors, MTV, CNBC-TV18, CNN-IBN and VH1. It is pertinent to note here that Den has a joint venture distribution bouquet with STAR India and Star Den.

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