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STAR restructuring: Uday Shankar expected to report to James Murdoch

23-July-2009
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STAR restructuring: Uday Shankar expected to report to James Murdoch

News Corp had recently undertaken a restructuring process for its Asia broadcast arm STAR TV. STAR Chiefs from the region had been engaged in various interactions last week to discuss the direction that this restructuring should take. Even as STAR officials continue to be very tight-lipped on what was discussed in these meetings and what the outcome might be, sources close to the situation informed that it was expected that the India, China and Taiwan markets would engage in a direct reporting line to the London office.

Simply put, a move like this would mean that STAR India CEO Uday Shankar would be reporting directly to James Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive, News Corporation, Europe and Asia. STAR TV is one of the businesses that James Murdoch is heading. He is no stranger to the India market. Some of the key decisions of the India business have been made under his charge. A few examples are the Tata Sky deal, the Hathway deal, the MCCS deal and even the STAR Den deal.

The move would signify the focus that News Corp is placing on India as a market, and the growth potential that is expected from here. It is also understood that STAR Hong Kong operations would be reduced in scale significantly, and STAR HK would play the role of a liaison coordination office.

A timeframe for the development could not be ascertained. However, information available with exchange4media indicates that the process for this restructuring has already begun. There has been an increased traffic flow between India and HK, wherein Indian executives such as the Finance Officer, Heads of Engineering, Sales and Marketing have been spending time in Hong Kong working out the handover modulation.

Sources also informed that STAR channels’ distribution in international markets, that was so far handled by Honk Kong, would now be handled by STAR India directly.

At present, it does not appear that there would be any impact on the rest of the STAR structure in India, or on any of the JVs. However, exchange4media couldn’t confirm this detail independently.

To an earlier query from exchange4media on the subject, STAR’s official reply on the thought process behind the restructuring was: “STAR is undertaking a business and effectiveness review with the aim of creating optimal structure to support continued growth and seize significant opportunities in the region. The review is expected to take a number of months and will be communicated to colleagues and partners after conclusions have been reached.”

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