Vijay Singh to be next Star India COO; Peter Chernin flying in

MUMBAI: After Star CEO Paul Aiello, it is News Corp president and COO Peter Chernin, Rupert Murdoch's right hand man, who will be coming to these shores to shore up the morale of the Indian team. Chernin is flying in late on Thursday and will be in Mumbai over the following three days meeting the troops as it were.

And in a related development, learns that Vijay Singh, former CEO of Sony Music and currently Tata group company Tetley Tea's managing director, developing markets, has been appointed as Star India COO.

The main agenda of Chernin's visit would appear to be to reinforce India's importance, as well as to make clear how the new executive structure in Hong Kong and India (of which Singh is a key element) will mesh with News Corp's overall growth plans.

Singh, who will complete serving out his notice at Tetley by the month-end, is not taking up his new assignment immediately however. Indications are that he will join Star in the latter half of March. Singh will reportedly be taking up his new position just ahead of the departure of Star Entertainment India CEO Sameer Nair, whose last working day as head of India's lead broadcaster is 26 March.

Star officials were unavailable for comment on the issue of Singh's appointment.

As regards the announcement of a CEO, it will be made within the next one to two months is all that had been able to garner from industry sources at the time of filing this report.

With Singh's arrival as COO, and with Aiello holding additional charge as Star India CEO, the jewel in News Corp's Asian crown will have gone back to the structure it had before March of 2006 when Nair was COO and Peter Mukerjea was CEO. Mukerjea exited Star as of 1 February.

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