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Discovery hunts for new India head to replace Rahul Johri

MUMBAI: Discovery Networks is hunting for a new India head to replace Rahul Johri, who was in charge for eight years.

In the interim, Discovery Asia-Pacific president and MD Arthur Bastings will additionally manage the South Asia business and day-to-day affairs from India.

The company said Wednesday that Johri will continue to work with Discovery until the end of the year as a senior advisor to Bastings.

The new changes follow the resignation of Johri as executive VP, GM South Asia of Discovery, effective today.

Rahul-Johri1Johri performed various leadership roles during his 15-year tenure at Discovery. In the last eight years, he led the South Asia operations and created an unrivalled footprint for Discovery and one of the top performing markets for Discovery Networks International.

Some of Johri’s achievements include tripling the channel portfolio to 11 distinct and high-quality brands, strengthening Discovery’s factual entertainment programming while developing new genres like lifestyle and kids content, launching a new Hindi entertainment channel and creating a premium viewing experience through its three high-definition channels.

Bastings said, “We are fortunate and grateful to have had a leader of Rahul’s calibre and vision. At the helm, he created an unmatched portfolio that is immensely valued by viewers and trade partners. As we pick up where Rahul left off, India remains one of our most important growth markets. Coupled with its digital transformation and a massive population of millennials hungry for content, we are excited about the opportunities ahead and have aggressive plans to sharpen and enhance Discovery’s product palette to whet the ever-increasing appetite of this demographic.”

Johri took over as senior VP and GM for South Asia in 2008 after Deepak Shourie’s departure from the organisation. In 2014, he was promoted to executive VP and GM South Asia. In 2006 he was promoted to senior VP of sales.

Soon after taking over the helm at Discovery, Johri took charge of a slew of things. One of them was the rebranding of Discovery Travel and Living as TLC in 2010. The new channel broadened its lifestyle offerings through sub-genres like grooming. There was an effort to go beyond just food.

Johri also launched a second rung of channels—Science, Turbo, Kids and ID. The last one marked the company’s foray into Hindi entertainment and happened in end 2014. It is about true crime stories being dramatized.

Discovery also launched its HD bouquet including Discovery HD World, TLC HD and Animal Planet HD. Meanwhile, to capitalise on the Tamil market, a separate channel named Discovery Tamil was launched in 2011.

Discovery Science now offers a Hindi feed. Turbo was rebranded in 2014 to target males better. Under Johri, Discovery also launched regional feeds in Bangla, Tamil and Telugu. Animal Planet launched a Hindi feed.

In 2014, Discovery and Sony ended their distribution joint venture company. After the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) outlawed the bundling of television channels across broadcast companies, Sony and Discovery axed the JV company which they ran for over 12 years in India.

Commenting on his resignation, Johri said: “I have had the good fortune to work in one of the finest media companies in the world. After 15 years with Discovery, I believe it is time for me to explore new opportunities. I am confident that the current management team under Arthur’s strong leadership will continue to fuel Discovery’s growth in the region.”