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New Discovery India chief joins office; verticals created under two VPs

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by October 19, 2016 General

NEW DELHI: Discovery Networks Asia Pacific, home to iconic brands like TLC, Animal Planet, ID, Discovery channel and Discovery Life, has effected a restructuring in its Indian operations, after its Indian head Rahul Johri quit earlier this year, by creating two verticals under two vice-presidents which will now report to the newly-appointed South Asia Senior Vice President & General Manager Karan Bajaj.

Bajaj in turn  reports to Discovery Networks Asia Pacific president & managing director Arthur Bassinger, who has been charged with the responsibility of scaling up the network’s operations in the region and steering it into the digital ecosystem.

The Delhi-based heads of the two verticals under Discovery South Asia — Rajiv Bakshi and Richard Pemberton — female & family entertainment product and real world entertainment product, respectively — report to Bajaj who joined duties a couple of days ago. TLC, ID, Kids, and their HD and other language cousins fall under the female, & family entertainment product, while Discovery, Science, Turbo, Animal Planet, and their HD and language versions come under the Real World vertical.

According to Discovery sources, the changes that came into effect in recent months are aimed at revitalising the Indian operations, which the Asian regional head office located in Singapore felt was necessary after a period of slow growth in Asia’s biggest market, India.

Discovery, which broadcasts in English and several Indian languages aimed at increasing the reach beyond the English speaking areas, has also been increasing generation of local content for broadcast in South Asia and also on its global network.

The sources, however, clarified that the changes are interim in nature and as Bajaj settles down in his new assignment more rejigs may be in the offing.

Discovery, which launched its operations in India in the mid-1990s with former ISRO executive Kiran Karnik at the helm, has been witnessing churn since long-time executive Johri quit the organisation early 2016, which was also part of changes taking place in Discovery after Singapore-based Tom Keaveny, President and MD for Discovery Networks Asia-Pacific, was relocated to London in 2013 and Discovery bought over Eurosport subsequently.

Still, Indian broadcast industry observers said that Johri, a protégé of former India head Deepak Shourie (he was at the helm after Karnik departed in 2001), had navigated Discovery’s India operations quite ably during challenging times in the first decade of 2000.

In recent times, the whole Discovery group has been focusing on initiatives to keep pace with the changing technological space, including recently announcing a U$100 million investment in a digital JV as a minority stakeholder in Group Nine Media.

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