Alokananda Chakraborty

Will Ravina Raj Kohli be STAR's answer to Prannoy Roy?

The latest bit of news doing its rounds is that Kohli will take over the mantle of STAR News honcho when the NDTV-STAR agreement runs out its course in 2003

Ravina Raj Kohli has always made news. The latest bit of news doing its rounds in Mumbai is that Kohli will take over the mantle of STAR News honcho when the NDTV-STAR agreement runs out its course in 2003. No confirmation, of course, was available on this - either from STAR or Kohli herself.

The ex-Sony (senior vice-president, programming and marketing), ex-HFCL-Nine Broadcasting (CEO) hand is supposedly one of the many ‘high flying channel managers and senior editors' who have been 'sounded off' by STAR India CEO Peter Mukerjea in recent months. A senior media professional based in Delhi pointed out that Vir Sanghvi, editor of Delhi-based English daily Hindustan Times, and Rajat Sharma of Aap Ki Adalat (which later became Janata Ki Adalat when it moved from Zee to STAR) fame, were among the ‘key prospects' to take the baton from Prannoy Roy of New Delhi Television (NDTV).

If Kohli joins STAR, it would put to rest all the speculation about her that was set in motion when she quit HFCL-Nine Gold last year. There were even rumours that she would return to Sony Entertainment Television as the CEO to replace Kunal Dasgupta. These were reportedly triggered off after the visit of Michael Grindon, chairman, Sony, to India in October last year, during which he unleashed a radical downsizing plan.

It seems now that talks between the Kohli and the STAR India management have been going on for quite some time now. "STAR India management, it seems, were keen to take on a professional manager rather than an editor/content person to run the show," said a senior media professional based in Mumbai. Kohli, in the meanwhile, has also been involved in setting up her own company Sundial Communications, which she hoped to develop into ‘a media powerhouse'.

Among the challenges that Kohli is likely face is how to get STAR News ratings up. Unfortunately, despite the high standard of programming, say media planners, Aaj Tak won hands down in the ratings game. This, say sources, was one reason why the STAR India management decided against extending the current agreement with NDTV beyond 2003. This again, may be the reason, why a person like Kohli - with a background in both programming and marketing - is being chosen to head STAR News. But, as our source warned, "Since the STAR-NDTV agreement stands for another year, it is very difficult to say how things would unfold eventually."

Alongside, STAR India seems to have more or less firmed up its plans for the new news channel. While the ‘actual content' and ‘human resource' issues will only be sorted out after the channel head assumes his/her position, as things stand now, STAR plans to have just one news channel (as opposed to one Hindi and one English channel, as reported earlier). The news content would be in the proportion of 40 per cent Hindi and 60 per cent English. Some reports also indicate that the new STAR News channel will be modelled on the lines of the hugely successful Fox News operation in the United States. It would be a channel very different from the STAR News we see today, with a completely new look, new ID and logo. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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