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Sunil Punjabi quits AXN

MUMBAI: More than two years after assuming responsibilities as business head for AXN Networks India, Multi Screen Media EVP Sunil Punjabi has called it quits.

Sunil PunjabiPunjabi had joined the company in August 2012 when the two channels were part of Sony Pictures Television (SPT) Networks Asia and not MSM (Indian promoters were yet to exit from MSM).

The position was created as part of AXN Networks’ strategy to focus on India, one of its fast-growing markets.

Confirming Punjabi’s departure, MSM sources said that 14 December was his last day at the company. However, Punjabi could not be reached for comments till the time of filing this report.

While in his earlier stint he was responsible for business development of the sports, movie and music TV verticals and was also looking after new media, telephony and syndication divisions, Punjabi in his second stint at MSM was overseeing the day-to-day management of the channels, developing business opportunities and channel equity.

He was also overseeing the development, acquisition and production of a content mix for AXN Networks in India.

In 2012 he brought AXN original production ‘Hannibal’ to India. In 2013, with an idea to kill piracy, the channel decided to show some programmes in the same week of their UK/ US releases, which included series like ‘Sherlock’, ‘Top Gear’ and ‘Orphan Black’.

In March 2014, AXN struck a new multi-year output deal with CBS Studios International, which gave AXN access to all content distributed by CBS and exclusive rights to air all the new shows produced by CBS Television Studios in India including ‘Extant’ (starring Halle Berry) and ‘Penny Dreadful’.

In May this year, MSM named Pix EVP and business head Saurabh Yagnik as head of the English channels, a position newly created in the organisation. In his elevated role, Yagnik was given additional responsibility of AXN and Punjabi was reporting to Yagnik.

Prior to AXN, Punjabi was CEO at multiplex company Cinemax Ltd. He also headed the film production and distribution strategy at Fox Star Studios India for a period of two years.