Alokananda Chakraborty

The Raj Nayak saga: Where to now?

The executive vice-president, sales and marketing, STAR India, seems to have been bitten by the entrepreneurship bug

To declare that Raj Nayak's reported resignation (the news was broken by financial daily Business Standard on September 18) has come as a major surprise would be nothing short of an understatement. For the ad and media industry habituated to the evergreen presence of the STAR India veteran, such a development couldn't have come at a worse time with the 5 per cent service tax issue still hovering in the background and a new one, category-wise rate cards, championed by STAR and Nayak in particular, raising its threatening head. Nonetheless, with the cat now out of the bag, the question is, who is going to bell it?

STAR India for one is unwilling to do so. Says a company spokesperson, "We wouldn't want to comment about this issue since it is between the employer and an employee (whatever that means)." Nayak, on his part, has an even tougher stance with a strict ‘no comments' to any questions posed.

Nevertheless, going by industry sources, Nayak has called it quits for good indicating his desire to be relieved of his services in the next one month. Interestingly, sources maintain that the company top brass including James Murdoch, chairman and chief executive officer, STAR Group, and Peter Mukerjea, CEO, STAR India, are trying their best to persuade their executive vice-president, sales and marketing, to hold on. But the man of the hour, Raj Nayak, seems to have made up his mind.

His next stopover? An entrepreneurial venture that should see him fulfill a long cherished dream. Sources indicate that this venture would function as an outsourced sales and marketing arm, aimed at those broadcasters keen at easing the burden of a heavy in-house sales machinery. Also in the pipeline are plans to take up turnkey projects in television management, major sporting or allied events. Apparently, Nayak is also toying with the idea of moving into celebrity management and in-film promotions at a later stage. But for now, sales and marketing will be the key focus area of the yet unchristened company, which will be based in Mumbai.

For the veteran STAR hand, this move would bring to an end an eventful professional career spanning both print and television. Prior to STAR, Nayak was associated with the Indian Post, Sunday Mail and Independent Television and The Pioneer.

His inning at STAR however has been the most spectacular with Nayak playing a key role in pushing the network to where it is today through his nine-and-a-half years' association with the organisation. He began as area sales manager (north and east) in 1993 going on to become sales manager, India for STAR Sports, moving on eventually to become vice-president, ad sales, ESPN STAR Sports. There he was instrumental in strategising, packaging and marketing the 1999 Cricket World Cup, widely regarded as his biggest success story to date. After that he moved to Mumbai as senior vice-president (his earlier postings were in Delhi) with all the STAR channels (excluding STAR Plus) under his belt. In July 2000 he took over the responsibility of the entire network as executive vice-president, sales and marketing, a post he continues to hold till date.

Despite an enviable track record, the twist in the tale lies in Nayak's amicable movement from India's No 1 television network. If sources are to be believed, the company management has not accepted Nayak's resignation, one reason being his three-year contractual agreement with the organisation. But if all goes well, LS Nayak aka Raj Nayak could well be on his way to setting up his shop in the next three to four months. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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