After keeping away from its entertainment business for two years, promoters of Sahara One, which comprises Sahara One channels – Sahara One and Filmy – and the motion pictures division, are once again actively involved with Sahara One Media and Entertainment Ltd.
The move has induced a change in Sahara One’s management structure, wherein Seemanto Roy, the younger son of Sahara Chairman Subroto Roy, has taken complete control of all operations as Head of the business. The company’s CEO, Shantonu Aditya, who was hitherto reporting to Percept’s MD, Shailendra Singh, is now reporting to Roy.
An internal communication that was despatched last week said that Singh would now be advisor to Roy in the business. Percept continues to be the agency of record for all of Sahara’s communication and other activities, but this development implies that the managerial control that Percept had over Sahara One operations now stands changed. Nonetheless, by virtue of Singh’s role as advisor to Roy, Percept continues to be in the picture.
It may be noted here that Sahara’s association with Percept is nearly 13 years old. Commenting on the development, Singh said, “We have worked for almost 13 years and we have partnered with Sahara at various levels. On this count, when the contract was signed in June 2004, we were given a mandate to turnaround and establish Sahara One’s operations in the media and entertainment domain, and we have done that. However, now Sahara One is growing and there will be corresponding increase in investments. We have taken some very big decisions for Sahara, but in our role, we can’t continue to do so.”
“Therefore, it made sense for us to have the promoters directly involved and thereby be directly responsible for this business. Luckily, Seemanto being based in Amby Valley came in handy here,” Singh further said. He explained that while Percept had been taking care of some key areas for Sahara, it was never overseeing the business. “There is a difference between the two and there is a need for someone to oversee the business when the business is growing the way Sahara One is growing and the stakeholders have increased,” he added.
Earlier this year, C Sivasankaran’s Aircel Televentures had bought 14.98 per cent stake in Sahara One Media and Entertainment Ltd, following which Bennett, Coleman & Company Ltd acquired a stake in the company as well.
Singh also divulged that in addition to the television and motion picture businesses, Roy would also be responsible for setting up Sahara’s proposed Film City. He said, “We had suggested the idea of Film City to Sahara – it is a sensible option as they are making a number of movies. The project will be initiated soon.”
Prior to the June 2004 contract, which gave Percept management control over Sahara One Media and Entertainment Ltd, Sushanto Roy, Subroto Roy’s older son, was looking after the business.
Percept and Sahara One Media and Entertainment Ltd had struck a similar chord in 2001 as well. In the days when Sahara was moving on four cylinders to launch its mother channel, promoter Subroto Roy was not opposed to seeking external help. The Percept duo (Harindra and Shailendra Singh) along with some senior managers were handed the marketing and programming mandate of the channel. However, they did not (at the time) have a penchant for taking management control. After almost eight months of its implementation, the contract was revoked.
Sahara One channels have been in the news of late with the flagship channel going through a makeover and announcing a series of big projects like ‘Super Star’. Filmy, the Group’s Hindi movie channel, too has been gaining ground in the Hindi movie space.
Now with Roy taking charge, it would be interesting to see what kind of changes are on the anvil for Sahara.