Chandra relieves Goyal of CEO post at Zee

NEW DELHI / MUMBAI: It is official now. Sandeep Goyal, group broadcasting chief executive of the Subhash Chandra promoted Zee Telefilms will no longer continue in his present capacity. Chandra, the chairman of the company will directly provide leadership, support and guidance to the core team and to the new three-pronged strategic direction that has been devised by the biggest media company of India.

Goyal has already relinquished charge as group broadcasting CEO and has been appointed advisor to Zee Network, something which, media observers have described as, being one step away from being totally cut off from the company. A former CEO of Zee Telefilms, Vijay Jindal, also had been similarly made advisor before being eased out completely.

The core team which will now give direction to Zee's new strategy and attempt to bring back the company in the race for the top slot, occupied by Star Network for the last three years now, comprises Apurva Purohit, president Zee TV, Prashant Sanwal, director of Alpha channels, Yogesh Radhakrishnan, director of Zee Music and Zee Cinema, Laxmi N Goel (one of the brothers of Chandra) director of Zee News, Jagjit Singh Kohli, director of ETC and Ajay Trigunayat, vice-president of Zee English and Zee MGM. All of them will report in directly to Chandra.

Unveiling what he termed "new strategic directions," Chandra was quoted in an official release as saying: "Zee Telefilims will focus on programming excellence, multi-pillar channel approach built around the Zee TV flagship and build operational efficiencies to drive shareholder value."

In the release the company said that the focus on programming excellence would be driven by establishing benchmarks for all programming across channels.

The approach would be to identify market sensitivities to programming content as well as emphasise production values. The qualitative effort would be to ensure relativity with specific emphasis on driving wholesome, family oriented content and catering to a wider viewership, the release said.

Chandra was further quoted as saying: "With the emergence of the conditional access system, the power will be in the hands of consumers in terms of viewership as well as revenue. It is critical that we go into a system of programme benchmarking so that our eyeballs translate into viewer decisions to buy into the the channel."

One curious facet of the Zee release is that there is no mention of what role Partha Pratim Sinha, director-marketing, has in the new scheme of things. This is obviously bound to raise questions as to whether he is in or out but the only definitive on this score is that Sinha is not part of the core team.

According to Chandra: "Sandeep brought in new energy into the channel and I am pleased that he will continue to advise the organisation."

On his part Goyal, rumours about whose impending exit had been doing the rounds of media circles for over a fortnight now, was quoted as saying: "My association with the Zee Network has been very exciting. I am now taking a bit of time off to be on a sabbatical for the next few months. I shall continue to be available to Zee for any help or advice."

Goyal joined Zee Telefilms from Rediffusion in April 2001. When Goyal joined Zee he promised a complete relaunch of the channel, did a total clean up of the programme inventory, launched 24 new shows in one shot, opted for a channel mascot that he called "Khushi" (joy) - all in the space of just 100 days.

Of course it's another matter that all that unholy haste led to nothing more than Subhash Chandra's flagship channel landing up with some serious egg on its face.

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