NBC Uni taps head of Russian channels

Merab Gabuniya in newly created managing director post

LONDON -- NBC Universal Global Networks on Wednesday named Merab Gabuniya managing director of its Russian channels, underlining its aggressive expansion plans in the region.

Reporting to Central and Eastern head Colin McLeod, Moscow-based Gabuniya's mandate is to expand NBC's entertainment channel portfolio across Russia and build relationships with affiliate platforms and advertising sales clients in the region.

The newly created post highlights NBC Universal's aim to be a player in the region, where it now has four pay TV channels including Hallmark Channel, which celebrated its 10th anniversary in Russia last year; Sci Fi; Universal Channel, which launched last May; and KidsCo (a joint venture channel with Corus and Cookie Jar Entertainment.)

Prior to taking the NBC Uni post, Gabuniya was deputy director of the AFK Systema group where he established Russia's first IPTV platform, Stream TV, and led Systema's VOD project. He also was head of production and distribution of their first thematic channels in Russia.