Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp (NYSE: NWS). today said it was recasting its Asian broadcasting business into three units–Star India, Star Greater China and Fox International Channels.
Star’s Hong Kong-based CEO, Paul Aiello, will be leaving the company by December. Under the new structure, there will likely be no replacement, as heads of both Star India and Star Greater China will now report to James Murdoch, chairman and chief executive, Europe and Asia, News Corp.
Star India becomes a bigger entity, and will manage News Corp.’s interests in seven ventures in India. This includes DTH operator Tata Sky (joint venture with Tata Group), multi system operator Hathway (JV with Rajan Raheja Group), channel bouquet Star Den (JV with Sameer Manchanda’s DEN), Star News broadcaster MCCS (JV with Kolkata-based ABP Group), Star Jupiter (JV with Rajeev Chandrasekhar’s Jupiter Capital that runs Asianet), Star Vijay, Fox Star Studios India and Star CJ Homeshopping (a JV with Korea’s CJ Group and Pune’s Sakaal Group). In India, Fox International Channels including National Geographic and Fox History, will also become part of Star India.
Star India CEO Uday Shankar, who will now report to James Murdoch, will also oversee Star’s sales and distribution offices in West Asia, the UK and the US. This marks a major vote of confidence for Shankar, who was a journalist and then editor of Star News before joining Star India as CEO as a complete outsider in the entertainment business. There has been much speculation about Shankar’s future at Star first after Shahrukh Khan-hosted Kya Aap Paanchvi Paas Se Tez Hai (Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader) failed to click with the audience and then when Star Plus lost its leadership position to Colors’ onslaught. Those are now laid to rest as he takes on a bigger role and has succeeded in making Star Plus the most talked about channel again with the controversial Sach Ka Saamna (The Moment of Truth).
Star India has always been the biggest revenue earner for Star Group. With this restructuring, News Corp. has eliminated a needless middle layer and created a reporting line straight to the top.