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Star India taps Marico executive as distribution head

MUMBAI: Star India has got a new distribution head. The broadcast major has appointed former Marico chief operating officer for rest of South Asia, Middle East & Africa Sridhar Balakrishnan as its head of distribution.

Balakrishnan will replace Krishnan Kutty, who has a few months back been made EVP and business head of the English cluster.

Sridhar BalakrishnanStar India MD Sanjay Gupta announced the new appointment in an internal email to employees.

“Distribution has been a key priority for the organisation, and we have leveraged the growing penetration of TV to drive reach of our channels across the width and breadth of this country. As cable in India gets fully digitalised and consumers get access to an array of differentiated channels and services, the opportunity to unlock value in the distribution business is huge,” Gupta said in the email.

“It gives me great pleasure to welcome Sridhar Balakrishnan, who joins us as the head of distribution business. He will spearhead this agenda for Star.”

An alumnus of XLRI Jamshedpur and BHU, Sridhar has spent most of his 22 years of work life with Marico and has handled a variety of roles across sales, trade marketing, business finance and supply chain.

In his last role as COO for rest of South Asia, Middle East & Africa, he was responsible for Marico’s multi-geography business across the business units of Bangladesh, South Asia, Middle East and Africa.

During this stint, he changed the operating margin profile for business by driving innovation in the core markets of Bangladesh and Egypt, turning around the Middle East business and opening up newer markets in North Africa.

For Star, which generates 20,000 hours of content every year and broadcasts 40+ channels in eight different languages, distribution has been a key focus area as it looks to reach the target of $500 million EBITDA by 2018 and $1 billion by 2020.

The digital addressable system (DAS) implementation is in its last phase and Star sees a great opportunity to increase its revenue from the distribution side.

The appointment comes close on the heels of another major appointment for its Hindi GEC Star Plus. As reported first in, the broadcaster recently roped in former Mondelez International director of process transformation Narayan Sundararaman as general manager of Star Plus.

In April, Star India had announced a new organisational structure with the creation of five business units having a CEO each at the helm. The five CEOs are Amit Chopra (CEO, entertainment), Nitin Kukreja (CEO, sports), Ajit Mohan (CEO, digital), Vijay Singh (CEO, Fox Star Studios) and Kevin Vaz (CEO, South).

The CEOs, barring Kevin Vaz, report to Sanjay Gupta. Vaz reports to Star India MD South K Madhavan. Both Madhavan and Gupta report to Uday Shankar, who is now CEO and chairman of the company.

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