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The movers and shakers of 2014

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To achieve something, one needs to let go of something, 2014 saw many stalwarts of the media and entertainment sector taking that leap.

From being bitten by the entrepreneur bug to grabbing on to better opportunities, the industry saw a number of movements. Some of these created a stir while others went down as “regular” developments. Nonetheless, Indiantelevision.com lists down some of the major movers and shakers of the years...

Ajay Bhalwankar: He is a man who can be credited to providing valuable programming inputs across content on various channels. The year 2014 was like a shuffling battle for Bhalwankar. After spending almost 19 years with Zee Entertainment Group, with his last stint as programming head at Zee TV for six years, he joined Sony Entertainment Television (SET) on 7 April, 2014 as chief creative officer. Now in SET, he provides creative leadership and direction for the channel, and leads the programming and OAP (on-air-promotions) teams. Spanning various roles of creating, writing, programming, producing and directing entertainment content, he is an industry veteran with over 20 years of experience.

Ajay Trigunayat: TTN English entertainment channels, Romedy Now and Movies Now CEO Ajay Trigunayat quit the network this year. With M K Anand taking over as TTN CEO and business functions being centralised, Trigunayat moved out. Before joining TTN, he was in the Middle East in an entrepreneurial capacity, and had been the business head of the Zee English Channels bouquet, and put in stints at Lintas, Contract and Rediffusion and at Pepsi in a sales role.

Ajit Thakur: In a shocking development, the man credited for Life OK’s success story, Ajit Thakur decided to call it quits from the network. It was in July this year that he was given an additional charge of managing the network’s youth entertainment channel, Channel V. Currently he is serving his notice period and his last day in the organisation will be February, 2015.

Abhijit Avasthi: An engineer by education, Abhijit Avasthi was the right-hand man of India’s ad guru Piyush Pandey. After spending more than 10 years at Ogilvy, he finally decided to hang his boots to pursue what he loves the most.

However, according to reports, Avasthi is likely to set up his own creative agency, a move that he has been contemplating for a while.

Alok Agarwal: Zee Media CEO Alok Agarwal ended his one and a half years stint at the network to take charge as Network18 group COO.

Bharat Ranga: Since 1998, he had been an invaluable member of the Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel) family. After a 16-year stint with the network, he bid adieu in the month of October to explore new avenues. While at Zeel, he moved across functions and domains seamlessly, from sales to business head to being the international business head and then, the chief content and creative head for the organisation, he has been instrumental in making Zee’s content an unforgettable one for the audiences. His last project - Zindagi is getting critical acclaim from the masses.

Dilip Venkatraman and Savvy Venkatraman: ITV Network, which owns and operates news channels NewsX and India News, appointed former CNN IBN and IBN7 CEO Dilip Venkatraman as group COO of strategy and business development. Meanwhile, Savvy joined the network as group chief marketing officer.

KV Sridhar: After 17 long years Leo Burnett India chief creative officer, Pops, moved on to join SapientNitro, an interactive marketing, creative design and technology services agency. The movement did create a stir in the industry with many questions being raised on who can fill his shoes. Rajdeepak Das joined the agency as chief creative officer, soon afterwards.

MK Anand: The former Disney UTV Media Networks MD MK Anand took over as the new MD and CEO of Times Television Network (TTN), stepping into Sunil Lulla's shoes.  Anand had previously worked at The Times of India group for nearly 19 years, beginning first with the print business for 14 years and later on with the television business at Zoom from 2004 to 2009. He was the managing director for Disney UTV Media Networks till December 2013. The move saw functions like HR, finance, distribution being centralised and direct reportage to Anand.   

N P Singh: The industry was treated with a good surprise at the beginning of 2014, when in a major development Multi Screen Media (MSM) promoted its COO N P Singh as the new CEO. He replaced Man Jit Singh who was designated as non-executive chairman and moved to Los Angeles (LA).

Namit Sharma: From a creative background to a broadcast space, it was a challenge for former Wizcraft head for television business Namit Sharma. It was in early February when the news of former programming head Ajay Bhalwankar quitting and Sharma stepping into his shoes came to light. From directing fiction shows at Cinevistaas to film production and script writing at Yash Raj and handling events and non-fiction properties at Wizcraft International Entertainment, Sharma has done it all. As the programming head of the channel, he has brought some best creative ideas to the table.

Nagesh Chhabria: IndusInd Media Communications Limited (IMCL) CEO Nagesh Chhabria too was seen hanging his boot this year. Chhabria later bought 50 per cent stake in Mumbai-based Bhawani Rajesh Cable & Digitech Services through his company Bhima Riddhi Digital Services (BRDS). He also signed an agreement with Atlas Consolidated LLC - a joint venture between Greenwich Equity Partners and Jagran Infra-Projects led by Sanjiv Mohan Gupta - to create a national MSO with about $200 million being pumped into it.

Prem Kamath: The industry was shaken after former Channel V head and Star Pravah general manager decided to quit from Star for better opportunities at A+E Networks as deputy managing director, Asia Pacific. Associated with Star Network since 2007, Kamath had been heading Channel V for more than four years. Seeing his capability, he was given an additional responsibility at Star Network to head Star Pravah in 2013.

Pradeep Hejmadi: With more than 18 years of well-rounded experience in the Indian media industry spanning media sales, media planning and buying, consumer research, business planning and product development, he is the man with multi-dimensional understanding of the media business. Former TAM Media Research senior vice-president Pradeep Hejmadi quit the organisation to join Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel) as business head in the month of June. At TAM, he was responsible for revenue generation, client management, new business development and new product development and changed the working dynamics of the TV industry.

Pratap Bose: Omnicom-owned DDB Mudra witnessed a sudden churn at the top, early this year when DDB Mudra Group COO Pratap Bose resigned from the agency after a six-year stint.

The exit, who was looking to take over the top job, came after group chief executive officer and managing director Madhukar Kamath was given a four-year extension.

Raghav Bahl: Network18 founder and chairman Raghav Bahl, sold his baby to RIL chairman and MD Mukesh Ambani for a whopping Rs 4000 crore. What followed this was an upheaval of sorts, as one by one, the main pillars of the company began to fall. As soon as the meeting concluded between Bahl and the management of Network18, departures began which included group CEO B Sai Kumar, COO Ajay Chacko, CNN-IBN deputy editor Sagarika Ghose, IBN Network editor in chief Rajdeep Sardesai, Network18 Media CEO Sanjay Dua, Network18 digital CEO Durga Raghunath, Network 18 CFO RDS Binni Bawa and deputy foreign affairs editor Suhasini Haidar.

Rajdeep Sardesai: It was in July this year that after nine long years, the face of IBN18 and editor-in-chief Rajdeep Sardesai decided to move on from the network. He later on joined the India Today group as consulting editor. Further, penning his expertise of writing, in November he launched his book - ‘2014: The Election That Changed India’. The book tracks the story of the 16th Lok Sabha elections with a media insider’s view. It was in the same month when deputy editor at CNN-IBN Sagarika Ghose too bid adieu to the Network18 group and joined Times of India as consulting editor. 

Rajesh Iyer: Associated with the channel since its inception, Colors marketing head Rajesh Iyer has been one of the many behind the success of popular shows like Khatron Ke Khiladi, India's Got Talent, Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa and Bigg Boss. Iyer quit Colors in March to join Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel) as its business head, new initiatives, Hindi broadcast. With more than 13 years of experience in marketing and business segment, he aims to create some thrilling benchmarks in the industry.

Ravi Mansukhani: The year 2014 saw the ending of the seven year innings from IndusInd Media & Communications Ltd. (IMCL) managing director Ravi Mansukhani, who decided to step down from his position. It was said that Mansukhani had expressed the desire to relinquish his services, which was accepted by the board of directors in the board meeting held on 31 January. His next move is yet unknown.

Sameer Nair: He has donned numerous hats. From selling space in Yellow pages to being a member of a political party, Sameer Nair has had a volatile career. It was in July this year when the former Star India CEO joined Ekta Kapoor’s Balaji Telefilms as Group CEO.

S N Sharma: In what can be described as the biggest setback was the resignation of DEN Networks CEO SN Sharma, who was one of the founding members of the multi system operator. Sharma’s vision of growth through consolidation and digitisation had laid the foundation for the company. He has also spearheaded DEN’s rapid growth with his visionary leadership and unparalleled execution abilities. He has also been the driving force behind taking the company into the digital era.

Suhasni Haider: In a major development, CNN-IBN deputy foreign affairs editor and prime time anchor Suhasini Haidar bid adieu to the organisation in May this year. To focus on long-format journalism, she joined The Hindu as its diplomatic editor. 

Sunil Lulla: A 30-year media and communication veteran, Sunil Lulla made headlines in July when he decided to move on from Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd. After almost 10 years with BCCL, Lulla, joined WPP-owned Grey Group as chairman and MD for Grey Group India.

His joining the advertising industry was homecoming as he had started his career in one.

However, his appointment led to Grey Group India president and CEO Jishnu Sen moving on from the network.

Tony D’silva: With Ravi Mansukhani stepping down, IMCL saw a new MD and CEO in Tony D’silva, who was earlier the president of Hinduja Ventures Limited (HVL) and was overlooking its upcoming Headend InThe Sky (HITS) project. D’silva was given additional responsibilities as Group CEO-Media of HVL, and MD and CEO of IMCL.  

TS Panesar: Star India EVP for distribution TS Panesar, who was entrusted with the responsibility of handling distribution for national DTH and digital addressable systems (DAS) earlier in 2014 when the JV between Star and Zee- MediaPro was broken, quit.  He later joined MSO Hathway Cable & Datacom as head-video business.  

Vikram Mehra: After spending close to 10 long years at one of the leading DTH companies in India, Vikram Mehra, the chief commercial officer of Tata Sky moved on to Saregama, this year. While at Tata Sky, he was responsible for subscription revenue management, churn management, brand marketing, new product development, consumer analytics, interactive service operations, consumer research and PR, he is handling the digital platform for Saregama.

Vikram Sakhuja: It was in October that GroupM announced the appointment of Lindsay Pattison as global CEO of Maxus, the post held by Vikram Sakhuja. Till date his next move in the group hasn’t been decided, but he is expected to take up a global role at parent firm GroupM.

Vivek Srivastava: It came as a surprise when the news of former Colors commercial and digital head Vivek Srivastava quitting, shot the mailers. His extensive background in research, awareness of new media and over a decade in the broadcast industry contributed to maintaining the robust presence of all Colors brands in the digital space and managing the overall costs for the brand.  He headed to Times Television Network (TTN) in the month of October as senior vice-president and head of the English Entertainment Cluster, which includes premium channels like Movies Now and Romedy Now.



(The names are in alphabetical order)

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