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Rapid growth leaves Indian media grappling for CEOs

india Updated: Aug 07, 2007 18:37 IST

The boom in Indian media appears to have outpaced the talent supply with over half a dozen ventures - including those from global giants like News Corp and Walt Disney - scouting aggressively for a business head.

Headhunters have been busy for months searching for CEOs to lead TV and radio ventures of at least eight big names, which are either already up and running or are slated to become operational very soon. The search is also on for chiefs to head various media ventures that are on the planning stage.

Walt Disney India is looking for a new chief ever since its Managing Director Rajat Jain resigned in March this year. Jain joined a value-added cellular service firm Mobile2Win as its CEO and managing director late last month.

Star News, a joint venture between Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and Ananda Bazar Patrika, is also without a head for more than three months after its CEO Uday Shankar was appointed as Chief Operating Officer of Star India.

Even Star India does not have a full time chief and Star Group CEO Paul Aiello has been officiating as an acting CEO for about seven months. While Shankar was named to the top at Star News after a high-profile exit of its then business head Ravina Raj Kohli in 2004, the additional charge of Star India was given to Aiello after resignations of Peter Mukerjea and Sameer Nair early this year. Mukerjea left as Star Group India CEO and Nair as Star Entertainment India CEO in January 2007.

Executive search firms and HR managers feel the high attrition rate at the top level was due to the rapid boom in the media sector as well as growing expectations of industry veterans who are moving to places with greater authority to operate.

"Mainly two factors are driving this trend -- firstly, old-age media is reshuffling and many of the conventional CEOs are not able to live up to it and they go searching for new opportunities," Kavita Dasan, Chief Manager (HR) of Times Internet Ltd told PTI.

"Second, new-age CEOs have a fresh set of ideas that they would like to implement, but due to too much interference from management they are not able to do it and eventually they are also moving out to places where they are in more authoritative position," she added.

Mrinal Bhargava, Vice-President of executive search firm Smart Brains Consultants, felt immense opportunities in the job market were leading to high attrition rates. Bhargava also said the new brigade comes with a fresh set of ideas, making a value added company in totality.

Besides Star and Walt Disney, other global and local brands such as Viacom, Virgin and Sahara group are looking for top officials for their new ventures.

Viacom Inc, which owns channels like MTV, announced its partnership with Raghav Bahl-headed TV-18 in May to float a general entertainment channel, but the two partners are yet to appoint a CEO for the venture, named Viacom-18.

Besides, Sahara One Media and Entertainment is looking for a new chief after Shantonu Aditya resigned as its CEO in April to join UTV Communications. Mid-Day group's Radio One appointed a new CEO last week after more than three months of its previous CEO Rajesh Tahil submitting his papers.

In addition, Fever 104 FM, a radio venture between Richard Branson's Virgin Radio and HT Media is also believed to be looking for a CEO, while Miditech -- promoted by Alva brothers Niret and Nikhil -- is also searching for a business head to manage its proposed TV channel.