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High profile executive departures in 2016

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MUMBAI/NEW DELHI: As the year comes to a close, let’s take a dekko at the major parting of ways between individuals and companies and also in companies themselves that hit the Indian broadcast, cable, satellite TV sectors. The list is definitely not comprehensive but the effort has been to try and cover what we at indiantelevision.com consider major split ups, including in the government.

Arun Jaitley: One of the most powerful politicians in the country was entrusted by PM Modi some very important portfolios when the BJP-led government came to power mid-2014.

In a cabinet reshuffle in November 2014, Jaitley was also handed the important ministry of information & broadcasting (MIB) and he headed three ministries at one time, including the all-powerful Ministry of Finance.

However mid-2016, MIB was handed to M. Venkaiah Naidu. Critics said it was PM’s way of sending a message to Jaitley, but with three ministries under him, it was asking too much from the man even as brilliant as he is. Jaitley retains the portfolios of  Corporate Affairs and Finance --- and, probably, could turn out to be PM Modi’s best lieutenant in the all-out war on black economy declared via  demonetisation of high-value currency notes and other proposed measures .  

Jawhar Sircar: A senior bureaucrat-academecian, he quit the government to take up in 2012 the challenging post of CEO of India’s pubcaster Prasar Bharati, overseeing the monolithic Doordarshan and the widely-reached All India Radio.

An outspoken person and a hard taskmaster, Sircar attempted to bring about a revolution in Prasar Bharati’s way of functioning and improve its revenue and reach.

Partially successful, he met with lot of resistance trying to change a slothful giant. In private, he admitted that what frustrated him was that the pubcaster is manned by a bunch corrupt, no-good, job-for-life-security-seeking blokes, who wanted to retain the status quo.

With his tenure scheduled to end in first quarter of 2017, a “tired” Sircar (as per his own admissions on social media) finally threw in the towel and sought early retirement in October 2016, which was granted by the government. Sircar returned to his home base in Kolkata to lead a  retired life and giving talks on issues related to primarily arts. 

Arnab Goswami: The popular anchor had made shouting out his guests as the trademark of his prime time show – News Hour on Times Now. So one only expected his departure to be as noisy - though it was unfathomable by many who thought he and the channel were one – conjoined at the hip.

And Arnab did not disappoint. The media went berserk: mainline and trade portals, social media, could not stop talking about his departure for weeks, months, and they have not stopped even as the year is coming to a close.

Goswami’s new venture, believed to be on the cutting edge of technology -- and news - is christened Republic.

Ashok Venkatramani: The CEO of ABP News saw the news network being reinvented, rebranded and recreated from Star News to ABP News a few years ago without losing viewership and business. Venkatramani strengthened the companys financials, brough in systems and rigour making ABP News a viable business operation. He improved the company’s margins, keeping costs under control, even as he expanded ABP News Network’s portfolio to five TV channels, six mobile products, six websites and three additional revenue verticals. Venkatramani quietly resigned without any hullabaloo in November after serving out his notice period. He was replaced by Atideb Sarkar, the son of ABP editor in chief Arup Sarkar.

Rahul Shivshankar: He left News X in November 2016 to fill the the big shoes left behind by Arnab Goswami. The Kartikeya Sharma owned NewsX flourished under his ediorial leadershup of three years during the TAM era. The journey after BARC’s evolution was not  as good, but the former Headlines Today journalist has his own following.

Known to be an insightful, incisive journalist, Shivshankar joined Times Now on 15 December as Chief Editor, returning to the company after six years.

Shivshankar was Senior Editor in his previous stint at the Times Now. And he seems to have done well as Arnab’s replacement. Times Television Network CEO MK Anand has come on record to state that the news network’s viewership share has stayed intact, unaffected by the larger than life news anchor’s departure.

Sameer Ahluwalia: In one of the more controversial moves, Zee Business head Sameer Ahluwalia parted ways with Zee Media Corp Ltd (ZMCL)  Ahluwalia was associated with the Zee Network for 19 years  and was known to be a close confidante of ZMCL chairman Subhash Chandra.

Samir’s name was embroiled in the case of the alleged extortion of Rs 100 crore along with Zee News Editor-in-chief Sudheer Chaudhary. To make matters clear, the management had immediately accepted his resignation.

RK Arora: Zee Media has seen a lot of changes in 2016, with RK Arora being one of those who made an entry and then an exit. Known for his industry acumen and powerful contacts, RK Arora quit Zee Media as executive director and chief cxecutive officer after a stint of around 15 months.

Arora had joined Zee in May 2015 and parted ways in August 2016. The former News Nation strategic and operational head and ITV Network senior executive has moved onto a new venture JK Media and got into the business of running television news once again.

Zee Media Group CEO News cluster Bhaskar Das: Leadership to him means delivering outcomes and not outputs. Identifying and mitigating pain-points come naturally to him. With a career spanning over three years, he was responsible for driving up the revenue of all news channels from the cluster that includes channels such as Zee News, Zee Business, Zee 24 Taas (Marathi) and 24 Ghanta (Bengali).

Earlier this year, he was moved to Zee Entertainment’s media sales arm, Zee Unimedia. As the president and chief growth and innovation officer, he heads the group’s news business operations, including the digital properties.

CNBC TV18 CEO Anil Uniyal: After working with the TV18 Broadcast for more than 15 years, Uniyal decided to hop on to the Raghav Bahl-Bloomberg venture. An insight provocateur, catalyst, a leader, he  served the network in various positions such as business director for Forbes, head of TV 18 Media operations, COO for Network 18 and lastly CEO for CNBC TV 18 and CNBC Awaaz. Uniyal joined as the CEO to lead Bahl’s joint venture with  Bloomberg.

CNBC Awaaz and CNBC Bazaar editor Sanjay Pugalia: Right after the exit of Uniyal, Pugalia called it a day at Network18. He moved on after 12 years as editor of CNBC Awaaz and CNBC Bajar. Further, under his leadership CNBC Awaaz went to the number 1 position in its segment. Pugalia played an important role in the launch of Star News in India. He went on to join as president and editorial director of both, Raghav Bahl’s The Quint and Bloomberg Quint.

India TV  CEO Paritosh Joshi: It's all about respect and relationships for him. Acting as a strategist at India TV since 2012, he was brought on board as CEO in November 2015. While everyone hoped that this would be a long association, it was clearly taxing for him as he continued to commute between two metros. He has completed the circle and is back to being a strategist. The primary reason behind his exit was to return to his family in Mumbai. After quitting as the CEO of Star CJ Network in 2012, Joshi planned on starting his own venture in the media and entertainment space. He founded Principal, an advisory to advise clients on corporate strategy, marketing, revenue enhancement and other issues.

Zee Digital Debashish Ghosh: With the explosion in the OTT and VOD ecosystem, opportunities are coming a-plenty for professionals. Zee Digital Convergence CEO Debashish Ghosh put in his papers at Zee Digital and hopped on board the Chinese tech and consumer electronics major LeEco. The salt and pepper coloured hair head took over as the new COO at LeEco's India outfit in June 2016. While at Zee, he had taken charge of all the digital businesses of the Essel Group in India as CEO and whole time board director of India.com network in February 2013. He started his career with the Times of India Group in 1990 and worked as head of technology and advertising operations to becoming Times Business Solutions CEO in 2012.

Zee TV Business Head Pradeep Hejmadi: From a broadcasting company to an audience measurement system and back to broadcasting, Hejmadi has seen it all. With multi-dimensional understanding of the media businesses, he moved from Nickelodeon India as director for business and operations to spearhead TAM media research as senior VP. He was responsible for revenue generation, client management, new business development and new product development. In July 2014, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel) appointed him as the business head of its flagship Hindi entertainment channel Zee TV.  Hejmadi called his last at Zee in May  2016 after spending two years with the company.

Disney India CEO Siddharth Roy Kapur:  Kapur was one of the newsmakers  of the year 2016. He is married to the beuatiful Vidya Balan and his brothrs Aditya and Kunal have made a mark for themselves in Bollywood as on-screen talent.

Siddharth quit Disney India as managing director in October to explore his own business interests. He was replaced by Mahesh Samat, the former CEO, who returned to the position that he held between 2008 and 2012, and officially took charge on November 28.

While working for the company, Kapur introduced the Indian Broadway version of the timeless classic 'Beauty and the Beast', which was a huge success, apart from launching a slate of Bollywood projects for the studio and fine tuning the network’s channel bouquet.

He joined UTV in 2005, took over as chief executive officer of UTV Motion Pictures in 2008 and after the integration of UTV with The Walt Disney Co. (India) in 2012, held the role of managing director-studios.

He was promoted as managing director of Disney India in 2014.

S.N. Sharma: He left a company he helped cofound to assist Reliance Industries boss Mukesh Ambani’s Jio to roll out a national cable TV and broadband network. But earlier this year, cable vet SN Sharma quit Jio to go back to his  original home DEN Networks.

His former boss  Sameer Manchanda gave him a call and told him he needed his help to whip the floundering national MSO into shape. SN – not one to ignore a challenge – took up the assignment. Pradeep Parmeswaran the DEN CEO stepped down,  paving  the way for Sharma to come back, and continued  as an advisor to the company.

Sharma has his task cut out but he has been taking strong but effective  steps with the company’s national jont ventures and he is steering it strongly into broadband. He  has confessed his stint at Reliance Jio has imbibed in him a telecom rigour which should go a long way in helping steer  DEN Networks into the fast lane.

Jagdish Kumar Pillai: The buzz was anyway gaining in strength; that Jagdish Kumar was counting his days at the national MSO – probably the most respected nationally. And that he had got the go-ahead to depart from both the Hathway Cable & Datacom management and director Viren Raheja who has been spearheading his father Rajan  Rahejas’s  cable TV venture.

With cable TV ARPUs being restrained the company is being restructured with Jagidish quitting and being replaced by Hathway broadband president  Rajan Gupta who was named the managing director. President – video business T. Panesar was also elevated as CEO-video business.

Jagdish who was with the MSO for around half a decade said he was taking a sabbatical before making his  next move.

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