Less than ten months after setting up its ambitious media venture, HFCL-Nine Broadcasting India has decided to shut down its television business, which primarily pertains to programming on Doordarshan’s Metro channel. The company’s contract with Doordarshan expires in September. Nine Network holds a three-hour prime slot from 7-10 p.m. on DD Metro till September.
Recently, Ms Raveena Raj Kohli, CEO, Nine Network, had requested DD for a long-term extension of contract, which DD refused. Following that, DD had invited for fresh bids for its Metro channel. But calling the floor price at Rs 97.5 crores for the 7-10 p.m. slot too expensive, Nine Network did not bid.
An official statement released by HFCL-Nine said: ‘‘Given DD’s current surprising attitude and statements that they would prefer to programme and market Metro in house, rather than deal with HFCL-Nine, the television business of the company on Metro will cease to exist from September 10, 2001.’’
After September, the company will downsize its operations and a core team will remain to explore further opportunities. The company itself is not shutting down, the statement added.
Although HFCL-Nine has announced its plan to close the TV business pertaining to DD Metro, it is open to the idea of bidding for Metro prime slots again. If DD decides to deal with HFCL-Nine on realistic terms, the company would be happy to reinstate the business. DD is likely to announce a fresh auction of its Metro prime slots within a few days without setting any minimum floor price.
The shutting down of its television business comes close on the heels of the Department of Company Affairs ordering a probe into the books of HFCL on the company’s alleged dealings with stock broker Ketan Parekh.