Rohit Gupta joins Sony

By , agencyfaqs! | In | April 18, 2002
A Xerox Modicorp man with no experience in selling media, Rohit Gupta faces some advantages and some challenges in his new job

Rohit Gupta has joined Sony Entertainment Television as executive vice-president, sales & revenue management, with effect from April 15, 2002. Gupta, an economics graduate who has spent his entire corporate career at Xerox Modicorp has no experience in selling media.

Prior to this crucial assignment, Rohit was the executive director, marketing & field support, Xerox Modicorp. At Xerox Modicorp, Gupta's work spanned a whole range of categories, such as marketing, support and customer relations management. One of the major challenges that Rohit had to face at Xerox was the decline of the market for traditional copiers, a development that made Xerox focus more on value-added services.

In his new role at SET, Gupta will be a key member of the management team and will report to the CEO, Kunal Dasgupta. Gupta plans to oversee the sales and revenue management functions of the channel himself.

In a way, Gupta has his job cut out for him. But he starts with an advantage. Sony has bagged the rights to the ICC cricket tournaments, and this alone will ensure that the channel has viewers galore and a huge amount of money coming in as advertising revenue. Cricket ratings in the largest cricket programming market in the world have been consistently high, even when India has performed badly in cricket, or has been plagued by match-fixing allegations. Media planners expect the next World Cup (2003) to generate advertising revenue in the region of Rs 350 crore to Rs 400 crore. Alongside, the channel is also hoping for a substantial increase in its subscription revenue.

Gupta steps into the shoes of Kacon Sethi, a key member of CEO Kunal Dasgupta's team, who oversaw the selling of the channel in its glory days - before the advent of KBC, and the meteoric rise of rival STAR Plus. With the advent of KBC, and a real change in the viewing preferences of Indian audiences, Sony saw its ratings - and consequently revenues - slide rapidly.

In a bid to combat this, the company shuffled the channel's programming and organisational set-up several times, which, according to press reports, led to a lowering of employee morale, and a series of high profile exits. The visit of Michael Grindon, chairman, Sony, to India in October 2001, during which he reportedly unleashed a radical downsizing plan, did nothing to help matters. In fact, Gupta's predecessor, Kacon Sethi, who was executive vice-president in-charge of sales and marketing, as well as the head of Sony's Max channel, left as a result of these changes.

Gupta is the first person to fill in a slot among the many vacated then. Gupta has been set the task of maximising the revenues from both the general entertainment business as well as Sony's recent acquisitions of the ICC cricket rights.

His challenge will lie in the former. Analysts say that while the cricketing rights will work to his advantage, the real task will be in selling Sony. While Sony's new "bloc-by-bloc, day by day" programming has helped it stabilise its position, what may be worrying the channel brass is the aggressiveness of a resurgent Zee. Another worrying factor is that its new launches like Dhadkan and Hubahu, while doing well, have not made it to the Top 100 shows on C&S television yet. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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