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Guest Column: With Uday, there's never a dull moment: Sam Balsara

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Guest Column: With Uday, there's never a dull moment: Sam Balsara

I got to know Uday sometime back in 2005. Probably a little better in 2006, when he was the Editor of Aaj Tak and I as Media Agency for Coca Cola had the task of smoothening the rough edges caused by the Coca Cola pesticide story by Sunita Narain of Centre for Science and Environment (CSE.)

Soon after, sometime in 2007, a few industry folks and I were huddled around the breakfast table at our hotel during Goafest, where Uday too was a silent spectator to a conversation that revolved around the succession of Peter Mukerjea at Star. Uday soon left the conversation saying he has to go back to Bombay. The same evening we got the news that Peter Mukerjea’s successor was going to be none other than Uday Shankar. Most were surprised at this unlikely choice because a journalist is seldom considered fit enough for the role of a CEO. I must say, the Murdoch’s have an uncanny knack of spotting talent from their own stable to lead their companies. It is well known that Uday has played his cards right at Star consistently over many years, taking bold decisions that went against conventional wisdom. From ending iconic shows like Kaun Banega Crorepati, winding up shows produced by the infallible Ekta Kapoor, disinvesting in Balaji Telefilms, disconnecting with ESPN, the aggressive moves in cricket and starting leagues in relatively challenging sports like hockey and kabaddi and more recently launching HotStar which is now second only to YouTube, are all legendary moves that characterise Uday’s initiatives, a man who I believe works at his desk, standing.

Uday likes to drive an agenda, preferably his own. For those of you who don’t know, meetings with AAAI (Advertising Agencies Association of India) and ISA (The Indian Society of Advertisers) draw out the character of the man. IBF (Indian Broadcasting Foundation) initiatives of collecting service tax from the advertiser, reducing credit period, hammering out an agreement between IBF and AAAI, the decision to bill at net rates, the decision to reduce credit period, the gumption to take over the industry’s initiative on BARC (Broadcast Audience Research Council) and make it that of IBF, all come to my mind when I think of Uday. Never a dull moment! You are promised action and action you will get! He does his job and does it well. For him and his masters!

Congratulations to Uday on completing a decade and may he complete many more which are even more successful and eventful than the last.

Sam Balsara is the Chairman and Managing Director at Madison World.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of

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