News Corp rejigs Asia ops; Shankar to report to Murdoch

MUMBAI: News Corporation will restructure its Asian broadcast businesses into three units – Star India, Star Greater China and Fox International Channels (FIC).
As part of the restructure, Star CEO Paul Aiello will leave the company. He will stay to the end of December to ensure a smooth transition. 
Following the restructuring, Star India will manage sales and distribution of News Corporation channels in India – a total of 19 channels in eight languages. In addition, Star India will manage News Corporation’s interests in seven ventures including DTH operator Tata Sky, Cable system Hathway, channel distributor Star Den, news channel operator MCCS, south Indian broadcast business of Asianet channels and Star Vijay, film producer and distributor Fox Star Studios India and Star CJ Home Shopping. Following a successful year of expansion, Star India now has greater breadth and depth than any other broadcaster in the country.
Star India CEO Uday Shankar will now report directly to News Corporation chairman and CEO Europe and Asia James Murdoch. In addition, he will oversee Star’s sales and distribution offices in the Middle East, the UK and the US. Shankar will also gain responsibility for managing the sales and distribution of all Fox-branded channels in India.
FIC will combine the English-language channels previously managed by Star with the Fox and National Geographic brands for distribution in the rest of Asia. The changes are designed to support continued growth of each unit and will result in a reduction in the size of its regional operations in Hong Kong by deploying resources into local markets. 
James Murdoch said, "Since launching with only five channels in 1991, Star has grown in scale and made a valuable contribution to broadcasting in Asia. We are now reshaping a big, regional organization into three highly focused business units, each of which will be intensely competitive in its target marketplace. While it was once natural to have a larger, regional headquarters, the Company has now reached a scale in its key local markets where we are ready to empower the teams on the ground and move a number of functions to be closer to viewers." 
News Corporation also announced the establishment of a News Corporation office in Hong Kong. The new office, comprising a small group of executives from the current Star team, will be responsible for supporting News Corporation’s interests in the region and managing joint ventures including ESPN Star Sports. It will carry out business development, legal, government affairs and corporate communications functions, with each function reporting directly to the corresponding functional heads in London. 
Murdoch said, "It is with much regret that I accept Paul’s decision to leave the organization to pursue other interests and I wish him well. Paul has played an important leadership role in building local teams and driving Star’s growth, particularly in India where we have expanded our broadcast footprint nationally and launched new ventures including film production and distribution. I thank him for his contribution." 
Aiello added, "I feel privileged to have worked at News Corp and Star and I would like to thank all of my colleagues and partners. I am confident that, under James’s leadership, the reorganization will enable the businesses to take advantage of new opportunities for growth as they enter this new stage in their development." 
Star Greater China 
Star Greater China, Star’s Chinese language content and broadcast businesses, will oversee a bouquet of Chinese language channels, namely, Star Chinese Channel, Xing Kong, Star Chinese Movies, Star Chinese Movies 2 and Channel [V], the Fortune Star movie library and joint ventures Phoenix television and Fox Star Studios Chinese film production. 
Star president, China and Taiwan John Lau will now report directly to Murdoch. Star China CEO Jack Gao and Star Taiwan CEO Daniel Cheung will continue their operational leadership roles in their respective markets.
Fox International Channels 
FIC will combine Star World, Star Movies and Channel [V] International with channels under the Fox and National Geographic Channel brands to create Asia’s largest international TV channel network, operating 37 channels under 17 channel brands and reaching more than 426 million cumulative households. In addition, FIC will become responsible for the regional distribution of the Star India and Star Greater China channels outside their home markets in Asia and continue to distribute its channels in the Middle East. 
The business will be managed by Ward Platt, president – Asia, and Zubin Gandevia chief operating officer – Asia. Platt will report to Fox International Channels and National Geographic Channels Worldwide CEO David Haslingden. The combination of Star and Fox International Channels will create a streamlined structure, resulting in a more efficient cost base for the operation of regional channel distribution in the consolidated business. It also provides a platform for FIC to expand its high-definition portfolio in Asia from the current four brands to eight or more next year.