Alokananda Chakraborty

Sanjay Pugalia to join STAR News

His rich experience with both Aaj Tak and Zee News should help Sanjay Pugalia in his new post

STAR is seriously working at revamping its news team.

India's top television company announced yesterday that Sanjay Pugalia will join the network as director, STAR News. His appointment will be effective July 1, and he will report to Ravina Raj Kohli, president, STAR News. Interestingly, in October 2000, at the height of the dotcom and television channel boom, Pugalia had left Aaj Tak for a high-profile managerial position with Kerry Packer's Channel Nine. His boss at STAR (Kohli) too comes from a similar background. Kohli, an ex-Sony (senior vice-president, programming and marketing), ex-HFCL-Nine Broadcasting (CEO) hand, assumed office at STAR on April 15. She reports to STAR India CEO Peter Mukerjea.

Announcing the appointment, Ravina Raj Kohli, president, STAR News said, "We are very pleased to have Sanjay join our team at this exciting time in the development of STAR News. Sanjay has had a wide range of experience in television journalism and will be an invaluable asset to us." This is the first high profile appointment after Kohli joined the channel as head of the new STAR News. Industry sources say that Kohli has been given complete autonomy over STAR News, including in the crucial matter of appointments. More such recruitments at STAR News are expected to be announced over the next few weeks.

The challenge for Kohli and her team is two fold. First, she must make the new edition of STAR News, a formidable successor and rival to the present edition of STAR News, which is produced by NDTV, and has some of the best people in news programming. The challenge is likely to become more intense if NDTV, as market buzz seems to indicate, ties up with main rival Sony to continue its news programming.

At the same time, she will have to score in the ratings game, a game in which the present edition of STAR News, despite its professionalism and slick programming, lags behind others, with Aaj Tak taking the top honours. Pugalia, with his vast experience in the media, is expected to give a major thrust to meeting the first challenge.

Forty-two year old Pugalia's experience at both Zee News and Aaj Tak - which made a big dent into Zee News' viewership - will stand him in good stead at STAR, which is trying to set its news channel ground up. Pugalia has over 20 years of experience in print, television and radio journalism and has worked with The Times of India Group, Business Standard, BBC Radio and Aaj Tak, besides a very brief stint at Channel Nine.

His current posting is with Zee News as executive editor. Pugalia had joined Zee in the midst of a major shake up in 2001, when he was given complete charge of programming on the Zee News channel. Along with him, Alka Saxena had joined Zee News as deputy editor (output) and MK Venu as business editor at Zee News. While STAR preferred not to comment, some Zee insiders feel a few of the trusted members of Pugalia's team might look out for an opportunity to join him at a later date. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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