Star poaches Sanjay Pugalia from Zee News

Star India today announced the appointment of Zee News executive editor Sanjay Pugalia as news director Star News. His appointment will be effective 1 July and he will report directly to Star News president Ravina Raj Kohli.

This the first major appointment that Kohli has made since taking charge of the Star News venture and would appear to indicate a clear focus on Hindi in the new scheme of things so as to directly take on Aaj Tak and Zee News. The speculation on what the content mix would be like languagewise has been on ever since Star announced it would be taking over the running of the channel when the present deal with Prannoy Roy's NDTV ends in March 2003.

Asked whether Pugalia's appointment was the clearest indicator yet of Star News shift towards Hindi, Kohli said Pugalia had been taken on not just for his background in Hindi but for his overall aptitude as far as television journalism was concerned. Queried as to whether a decision had been taken as far as the language mix was concerned, Kohli said: "I haven't crystallised my plans on that yet."

According to a senior executive of Zee Telefilms : "We were aware Pugalia was leaving as he had put in his papers some time back. Now we will have to rethink our strategy and look for new people and the search is on."

In accepting the appointment Pugalia was officially quoted as saying: "It's a great challenge to be part of a team that readies itself to establish a new news channel in a competitive environment. I feel privileged."

Pugalia was earlier with Aaj Tak when it was a one-hour news slot on national broadcaster Doordarshan before moving to Zee News as executive editor. He has over 20 years experience in print, television and radio journalism. Pugalia has covered and written on a range of topics covering politics, and business.

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