Uday Shankar named chairman and CEO in Star India restructuring

Sanjay Gupta named managing director; K. Madhavan, MD of Asianet Communications, to be MD for south at Star India


Uday Shankar said that the idea is to retain all the strengths of a large company and yet on an operational basis give them a huge degree of autonomy so they are not slowed down by multiple things going on in different units. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint
Uday Shankar said that the idea is to retain all the strengths of a large company and yet on an operational basis give them a huge degree of autonomy so they are not slowed down by multiple things going on in different units. Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint

Mumbai: Star India Pvt. Ltd, a subsidiary of media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox, on Wednesday announced the appointment of its chief executive officer Uday Shankar as chairman and CEO of the company.

Sanjay Gupta, chief operating officer, was made managing director. K. Madhavan, managing director of Asianet Communications, will be managing director for south at Star India.

These were among a slew of changes announced by Star India as part of the company’s organizational shift to what it calls “empowered business units”, each with its own CEO, reporting to Gupta.

“Star India consistently sets the standard for innovation and growth in one of the world’s most exciting markets,” James Murdoch, CEO of 21st Century Fox, said in a statement. “Uday, Sanjay, Madhavan and the entire Star India team have built a world-class business that has grown at double the industry rate. We are proud of its success.”

The company has grown rapidly in the past eight years in general entertainment and sports broadcasting, with coverage of sports ranging from kabaddi to cricket, the launch of its digital platform Hotstar, and content spread across Hindi and regional language channels.

As a part of its new organizational structure, Amit Chopra will be CEO, entertainment, which spans drama and movie channels in Hindi, English, Bengali and Marathi. Nitin Kukreja will be CEO, sports, overseeing the portfolio of channels under the Star Sports banner. Ajit Mohan is CEO of digital, which oversees Hotstar, which recently exceeded 50 million downloads. Vijay Singh continues to be the CEO of Fox Star Studios, which produces and distributes Bollywood and regional films.

Kevin Vaz will be CEO, south, reporting to Madhavan. The south business unit includes all of Star’s business interests in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

While each of these units will function largely as an autonomous business unit, some corporate functions will continue to overlap—finance, human resources and legal.

“The idea is to retain all the strengths of a large company with its ability to devolve deep resources, world-class talent, and yet on an operational basis give them a huge degree of autonomy so they are not slowed down by multiple things going on in different units,” said Shankar. “We are very focused; we try and disrupt things and throw the entire company behind that initiative. But when you become so widespread, you can’t throw the whole company (behind an initiative). And not having the same model will slow us down. Our ability to drive change would get impacted. That was the apprehension. That is why we felt we should align the company into smaller, more entrepreneurial units, on the daily operational basis.”

Beyond this, Star India will also set up a pan-India content studio to drive innovation in programming under Gaurav Banerjee, who will report to Gupta.

“For the first time for any company here, we are creating a dedicated pan-Indian content studio which will focus on the future development of content. So, new concepts, new ideas, new pilots to ensure that we stay ahead of the curve. That is the big bold initiative,” Shankar said.

The company will also look to do a great deal more in the films and film distribution space. “We have been bold and audacious on television; can we extend the same audacity to films? Let’s see… we would like to,” he said.

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