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It’s official: News Corp restructures Asia broadcast biz; STAR India holds leading position

19-August-2009
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It’s official: News Corp restructures Asia broadcast biz; STAR India holds leading position

News Corporation has finally announced the restructuring process that it had undertaken a few weeks back. STAR India, STAR Greater China and Fox International Channels will hold leading positions in their target markets in the new structure. exchange4media readers would recall an earlier report, which stated that Uday Shankar, CEO, STAR India would report directly to James Murdoch. This has been officially announced today.

In addition, Shankar will oversee STAR’s sales and distribution offices in the Middle East, the UK and the US. He will also gain responsibility for managing the sales and distribution of all FOX-branded channels in India. It was also announced that Paul Aiello would be exiting from the STAR Group.

It was also announced that STAR India will manage sales and distribution of News Corporation channels in India – a total of 19 channels in eight languages. In addition, STAR India will manage News Corporation’s interests in seven ventures including DTH operator Tata Sky, Cable system Hathway, channel distributor STAR Den, news channel operator MCCS, south Indian broadcast business of Asianet channels and STAR Vijay, film producer and distributor Fox STAR Studios India and STAR CJ Home Shopping.

In a prepared statement, James Murdoch, Chairman and Chief Executive, Europe and Asia, News Corporation, said, “Since launching with only five channels in 1991, STAR has grown in scale and made a valuable contribution to broadcasting in Asia. We are now reshaping a big, regional organization into three highly focused business units, each of which will be intensely competitive in its target marketplace. While it was once natural to have a larger, regional headquarters, the Company has now reached a scale in its key local markets where we are ready to empower the teams on the ground and move a number of functions to be closer to viewers.”

News Corporation also announced the establishment of a News Corporation office in Hong Kong. The new office, comprising a small group of executives from the current STAR team, will be responsible for supporting News Corporation’s interests in the region and managing joint ventures including ESPN STAR Sports. It will carry out business development, legal, government affairs and corporate communications functions, with each function reporting directly to the corresponding functional heads in London.

As part of the restructure, Paul Aiello, Chief Executive Officer of STAR, will leave the Company. Aiello will stay to the end of December to ensure a smooth transition. Murdoch said: “It is with much regret that I accept Paul’s decision to leave the organisation to pursue other interests and I wish him well. Paul has played an important leadership role in building local teams and driving STAR’s growth, particularly in India where we have expanded our broadcast footprint nationally and launched new ventures including film production and distribution. I thank him for his contribution.”

Aiello said, “I feel privileged to have worked at News Corp and STAR and I would like to thank all of my colleagues and partners. I am confident that, under James’s leadership, the reorganisation will enable the businesses to take advantage of new opportunities for growth as they enter this new stage in their development.”

The release also said that FIC will combine Star World, Star Movies and Channel [V] International with channels under the FOX and National Geographic Channel brands to create Asia’s largest international TV channel network, operating 37 channels under 17 channel brands and reaching more than 426 million cumulative households. In addition, FIC will become responsible for the regional distribution of the STAR India and STAR Greater China channels outside their home markets in Asia and continue to distribute its channels in the Middle East.

The business will be managed by Ward Platt, President - Asia, and Zubin Gandevia, Chief Operating Officer - Asia. Platt will report to David Haslingden, Chief Executive Officer, FOX International Channels and National Geographic Channels Worldwide. The combination of STAR and FOX International Channels will create a streamlined structure, resulting in a more efficient cost base for the operation of regional channel distribution in the consolidated business. It also provides a platform for FIC to expand its high-definition portfolio in Asia from the current four brands to eight or more next year.

Also read:

STAR Restructuring: Fox to handle STAR Movies & World only in South East Asia

STAR restructuring: Uday Shankar expected to report to James Murdoch

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