As Uday Shankar has decided to hang up his boots as President of The Walt Disney Company APAC and chairman, Star & Disney India, leaders of India’s media industry say that Shankar’s contribution has made India’s overall broadcasting ecosystem richer.
Talking to BestMediaInfo.com, the industry captains said Shankar’s departure will leave a huge vacuum at the Walt Disney Company, which will be difficult to fill.
Kalli Purie, Vice-Chairperson, India Today Group, said, “Uday has always left behind companies that are strong and able to take on the next challenge. We should know. Star will thrive under the capable team he leaves behind. He builds institutions not companies where he is indispensable. It takes a great leader to do that. I am so excited to see what he will do next.”
Punit Goenka, MD & CEO, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd., said, “In Uday, I have been fortunate to have found, not just a thorough professional colleague, but a very dear friend. We both go a long way back, right to days when he was shining in the realm of the editorial world. I have always enjoyed my interactions with him and we connected at a very unique and a creative level. Despite both of us being on the business and industry roles, whenever that we met, our conversations have largely been about the finer aspects of content, creativity and innovation. His contribution to the media & entertainment industry has been truly valuable. I wish him all the success in his future endeavours and good health.”
Rajat Sharma, Chairman and Editor-in-Chief, India TV, and President, News Broadcasters Association, too, recalled his association with Shankar. “I have known Uday for 25 years, ever since he worked with me in the Zee Newsroom. His rise from a researcher to the head of one of the world’s largest media outfits is phenomenal. I’m sure Uday will continue to inspire and guide all of us with his terrific understanding of issues related to broadcast industry,” Sharma said.
Shankar has also headed several divisions at the India Group in the past.
Highlighting the contribution that Shankar has made, Shashi Sinha, CEO, IPG Mediabrands India, said, “He is an icon with tremendous forward thinking skills and has taken big and bold bets which will impact the industry. We needed such a leader to grow the industry.”
Over the past decade, Shankar has played a key role in shaping the media and entertainment sector in India, bringing reforms for the industry and its consumers. A former president of Indian Broadcasting Federation (IBF), he is currently Senior Vice-President of FICCI (Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry) and in line to take over as its next president.
Shankar’s former colleague Raj Nayak believes his departure would leave a huge vacuum for the broadcasting network to fill. “Having been a founding member of Star TV myself, I only have huge admiration and respect for Uday and the way he has built the organisation. A lot of the credit of what Star Network is today goes to him. He has also played a major role in many industry initiatives and has been the voice of our industry. His departure will leave a huge vacuum for his incumbent to fill,” said Nayak, broadcast industry maven and founder of House of Cheers.
Talking to BestMediaInfo.com, Ashish Bhasin, the India Chairman and Asia Pacific CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network (DAN), said, “Uday has been one of the stalwarts of the industry and has left an indelible mark on the broadcasting industry. I'm sure he'll be very successful in any venture that he takes up. I wish him all the best for his next innings.”
Acknowledging Shankar's achievements and contribution to the industry, Anupriya Acharya, CEO, Publicis Groupe South Asia, said, “Uday Shankar undoubtedly has had a Midas touch. Under his leadership, Disney-Star has seen a meteoric rise by pushing all creative boundaries, scaling up operations and drumming up innovation and growth. His bold vision, focus and actions, be it the acquisition of the broadcast rights of the Indian Premier League – touted to be a landmark deal in India’s sports broadcast history, disruption of the digital space with the launch of Hotstar and now Disney+, iconic shows such as Satyamev Jayate and focus on grassroots sports such as Kabaddi, is truly admirable. At an industry level, he has accelerated future-readiness and value-creation for the industry as a whole. It’s been wonderful knowing him through the years and I wish him all the very best for the innings ahead.”
Calling it a disruption, Sam Balsara, Chairman, Madison World, said, “Invariably when there are mergers and takeovers, there is some disruption. My understanding and I may be wrong is that Star is and (was) a very entrepreneurial organisation whereas Disney is probably not. I hope he continues in the media industry since the industry needs strong entrepreneurial managers with guts and glory, who can help steer it through thick and thin.”
Shankar will step down as president, The Walt Disney Company APAC and Chairman, Star and Disney India, effective as of December 31, 2020, it was announced today by Rebecca Campbell, Chairman of Disney’s Direct-to-Consumer and International segment.
Over the next three months, Shankar will work closely with Campbell to identify his successor to ensure a smooth transition.
Since February 2019, Shankar has served as president, The Walt Disney Company APAC and Chairman, Star and Disney India. Previously, he was president of 21st Century Fox for Asia and the chairman and CEO of Star India.
He took over the leadership of Star India in 2007 and transformed not only the Star business into one of the largest and most successful media companies in Asia but has also played a significant role in revolutionising the media landscape of the region with a great team, audacious strategy and meticulous execution.
Under Shankar’s leadership, Star has also made strides in disrupting the country’s digital landscape with the launch of Hotstar, which is now India’s largest over-the-top (OTT) platform for professionally produced content and has gone global in its footprint with offerings in the US, Canada and the UK.
He previously served as CEO and editor of Star News, which was the first 24-hour news channel in India. He was also the editor and news director at TV Today Group, where he spearheaded the launch of Aaj Tak, a leading Hindi news channel, in 2000 and Headlines Today, a leading English news channel, in 2003.