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Facebook Names Hotstar’s Ajit Mohan as Its India Head Mohan will have his task cut out at Facebook as he will take charge right in the middle of India's election season

@anirbanroy

FACEBOOK has hired the head of video streaming service Hotstar as its India head, just months ahead of federal elections in India and under severe pressure to tackle fake news on its platform.

Ajit Mohan will take on the newly-created role of managing director and vice president of Facebook India early next year.

India is Facebook’s largest market by users and a key country in its scheme of things.

“Ajit’s depth of experience will help us to continue to have a positive impact in India across communities, organizations, businesses and with policy makers,” Facebook’s Vice-President of Business and Marketing Partnerships, David Fischer, said in a statement.

Facebook India has been without a full-time head since Umang Bedi quit late last year and has been led by its India and South Asia director Sandeep Bhushan acting as the interim managing director.

“I’m excited to announce that I will be joining Facebook early next year as the Managing Director for India. It is an exciting charter to shape the agenda of a company that, between Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram, has brought the world closer together in one of the most exciting markets in the world,” wrote Ajit Mohan in a Facebook post.

“I look forward to championing India in Facebook, to helping accelerate the country’s big leapfrog in technology, and to building deep and meaningful communities across the country.”

Mohan will have his task cut out at Facebook as he will take charge right in the middle of India’s election season.

The social media giant is under watch amidst growing concerns over the spread of fake news leading to mob lynchings in India.

India is also investigating the breach of Facebook user data by the political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica. The Menlo Park, California headquartered company is also under pressure to store more data locally.

Facebook has said that it has taken steps to safeguard its data and implement stricter privacy policies.

Mohan’s appointment is significant as video streaming services and sports streaming in particular, is gaining immense popularity in India and Facebook is competing with over-the-top streaming platforms and television broadcasters for live sports broadcasting rights.

As the CEO of Hotstar, Mohan helped launch and build the OTT platform as India’s leading premium video streaming service.

Hotstar’s aggressive acquisition of cricket media rights, including early this year for $944 million for the next five years, has helped it to grow aggressively in India, a strategy that Facebook wants to adopt.

Hotstar set a new global benchmark with 8.26 million concurrent viewers logging onto the platform for the final of the Indian Premier league in May this year.

Growing consumption of videos on digital platforms, especially on the OTT platforms, is rapidly changing the media ecosystem in the world, and India with its large population is the next big frontier for the social media platforms to lead with their video strategy.

“I am truly grateful for my team at Hotstar that has expanded the frontiers and shown that the future is still exciting for media companies,” Mohan said.

Mohan’s enhanced role in India will also help Facebook in improving its relationship with the government.

“Ajit’s depth of experience will help us to continue to have a positive impact in India across communities, organizations, businesses and with policy makers,” Fischer said.

Mohan has over two decades of experience and has worked with Twenty-First Century Fox’s Star India, McKinsey and Co. as well as the management consulting firm Arthur D. Little.

He has also been a columnist for The Wall Street Journal’s India blog India Real Time.

With Mohan’s appointment done, Facebook will now have to look for an India head for its messaging app WhatsApp and the photo app Instagram.

-ENDS-

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