ESS Sawhney moving to Singapore, to be replaced by former Kellog India MD

MUMBAI: ESPN Star Sports bossman in India Manu Sawhney has been promoted and is moving to Singapore. 

Sawhney, currently ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd managing director, has been promoted to ESS' senior V-P programming and event management group and will be operating out of Singapore.

Succeeding Sawhney as MD is RC Venkateish, formerly MD of Kellogg India and Japan. He will be responsible for advertising sales, marketing and distribution of ESPN India and Star Sports India networks and will report to Rik Dovey, MD ESS.

Sawhney is replacing the current incumbent in the position Wayne Becker, whose contract with the network is not being renewed once it comes to an end. Upon Sawhney's arrival in Singapore, he and Becker will work together to ensure a seamless transition.

Both Sawhney and Venkateish will report directly to ESS MD Rik Dovey.

Venkateish appointment comes at a critical time, what with the CAS rollout just over a month away. To smoothen the transition, Sawhney will be based in India for at least the next couple of months working closely with Venkateish and the management team to ensure a smooth transition.

Even after that period Sawhney will be closely associated with operations in India as his brief is to oversee programming, acquisitions and scheduling of all the nine channels broadcast by ESS across Asia. That includes ESPN India and STAR Sports India as well.

Once he makes the move to Singapore, Sawhney will be responsible for acquiring, managing and scheduling programming across nine ESS networks in the region --ESPN Asia, ESPN India, ESPN Taiwan, ESPN Philippines, MBC-ESPN (Korea), STAR Sports Asia, STAR Sports India, STAR Sports Taiwan and STAR Sports S.E.A. All nine feeds are customized in line with local audience preferences.

Sawhney will also oversee the ESS Event Management Group (EMG) that specialises in creating, managing, promoting, producing and syndicating sporting events such as the Asian X Games, the San Miguel 9-Ball Tour, Aviva Asian Bowling Tour, KL World 5s futsal event and next month's FA Premier League Asia Cup.

Dovey was quoted in a company release as saying: "Manu Sawhney has played a vital role in growing our India business, redefining the value of sports viewing and making ESPN and STAR Sports in India the number one unique broadcasting bouquet. He has demonstrated his ability superbly in some of the toughest situations in the India market and we look forward to him bringing his skills into a central position at ESS. "

Commenting on Venkateish's appointment, Dovey was further quoted as saying, "Venkateish's experience in India will be invaluable to the company's objectives of growing demand for our on-air networks as well as building new businesses in India. He brings with him a keen understanding of the industry and its issues, and we are confident he will play a vital role in growing our pay TV business in India."

Sawhney joined ESPN Software India in 1996, and has been instrumental in building the India and South Asia operations. As the MD, he was responsible for ESPN India and Star Sports India networks including advertising sales, marketing and distribution.

Said Sawhney, "I have seen the India operations grow from a start up to the highest paid penetrated services across India. We redefined sports viewing in India to become the biggest niche channel bouquet and undisputed leader of sports broadcasting. I am happy that the company has now entrusted me with one of the most challenging functions to oversee event management and programming of all the regional networks of ESPN STAR Sports."

Venkateish, meanwhile, is an alumnae of IIT Madras and IIM Kolkata, Venkateish has over 20 years' experience in the FMCG business and has worked with Kellogg, Oral B, Nestle and Smith Kline Beecham with stints both in India and abroad. Venkateish said: "Sports has been a passion with me since childhood. I look forward to the exciting opportunity at ESPN Software India Ltd."

R.C. Venkateish, formerly the Managing Director of Kellogg India and Japan, will succeed Sawhney as the Managing Director of ESPN Software India. Venkateish brings over 20 years' of FMCG experience to the position having held senior appointments at Kellogg, Gillette, Oral B, Nestle and Smith Kline Beecham both in India and abroad.

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