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Ajay Chacko becomes Network18 chief operating officer

Ajay Chacko, the current president of A+E Networks/TV18, has been appointed chief operating officer (COO) of diverse Indian media group Network18.

Chako will retain his role as president of the joint broadcasting venture with the US' A+E Networks – which provides factual entertainment through the HistoryTV18 channel – as well as supporting management teams and leaders across the Group, and creating and managing network-wide properties.

His new role as group COO will also see him implementing processes and models to add value across the entire Network18 business.

Chako, who has been with Network18 for the past nine years, has also been entrusted with the role of custodian of Brand Network18, according to the company.

"The dynamic nature of the media landscape in India today has necessitated the need to continuously evolve our internal operating environment to align with these changes. We have now embarked on a path of bringing together our various business units in order to successfully ride the opportunity wave and stay focused on returns to shareholders," said Raghav Bahl, founder and editor of Network18.

"In Ajay, we entrust the responsibility of strengthening our continued efforts to emerge as one strong network. He has our best wishes and whole-hearted support."

B Sai Kumar, chief executive officer, Network18 Group, added: "This network today straddles broadcast, e-commerce, digital content and niche print businesses. In the next phase of Network18, we intend to consolidate the strengths of each of these businesses across the network, extract value through unrelenting focus on internal assets and thereby better our offerings to external constituencies all around.

"Ajay has been key to the success of some of these businesses and in this new role, he will bring his expertise, foresight, operational and people skills to achieve what we've set out to accomplish."

The news came just after Network18 posted a strong end of year results, registering a 23.51% increase in revenues for the financial year ending 31 March 2013 at INR 240.08 billion compared with INR 19.438 billion in the previous financial year. The group's television and film division posted a rise of 36.62% in revenues from INR 12.629 billion to INR 17.255 billion.

Announcing the figures, Bahl said: "We are delighted to inform our investors and stakeholders that at both Network18 and TV18, we have successfully deleveraged our balance sheets and have delivered strong operating performances. Network18's and TV18's net debt now stands at less than one-fifth of the peak levels and our interest payments have come down sharply.

"We are confident that we are now entering a sustained value creation phase in our journey as we continue to strengthen our existing operations and consolidate our regional acquisition."

TV18 Broadcast also operates six news channels (CNBC-TV18, CNBC Awaaz, CNBC-TV18 Prime HD, CNN-IBN, IBN7 and Marathi regional channel IBN-Lokmat) as well as a joint venture with Viacom, called Viacom18. The latter broadcasts the general entertainment channels Colors, Colors HD, MTV, SONIC, Comedy Central, VH1, Nick, Nick Jr and Nick Teen, and runs Viacom Motion Pictures. TV18 and Viacom18 have also formed a multi-platform television channel distribution joint venture called IndiaCast.

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