Within a year of their coming to existence, country's two largest distribution alliances - One Alliance and Zee Turner - are set for a recast. HBO, part of Zee-Turner bouquet is moving out, to be replaced by a new Turner movie channel. Meanwhile, CNBC is all set to move out of the One Alliance.
In a press conference in Mumbai, HBO announced that effective January 1, 2003, Sony Entertainment Television, India will manage the advertising sales for HBO and distribute the service through its SET/Discovery One Alliance joint venture in India and the Maldives. Programming and marketing for the channel will be handled directly by HBO Asia.
Turner International India had been the exclusive distributor and ad sales representative for HBO since its entry into the market in September 2000. According to Dan Murrell, CEO, HBO Asia, "The SET alliance will enable us to build on the success the channel has enjoyed to date."
Confirming this development with exchange4media, Sunil Khanna, CEO, Zee Turner said, "Given certain business reasons, Turner is coming out with its own movie channel, which in turn will replace HBO". But will this replacement affect the price of the bouquet? "No. There will be no change in the pricing of the bouquet".
And Rohit Gupta, Head Revenue, Sony Television in a chat with exchange4media stated, "We are trying to diversify our portfolio and strengthen our alliance. I see HBO joining in as a good preposition, and to us it makes a lot of business sense. With AXN and HBO we complete our English band." When asked if Sony would now look at a music channel, said Gupta, "We will be open to any discussions that benefit the alliance as well as the interested channel." And will Sony now use HBO for cross promotions? According to Gupta, "The deal has just been signed. Once the detailed plans have been thrashed out, I am sure there will be cross promotions".
Interestingly, Time Warner Entertainment and Sony Pictures Entertainment both are partners in HBO South Asia, the other partners being Paramount Pictures and Universal Studios.
Moving on to CNBC, it is opting out of One Alliance to join Zee Turner bouquet. Substantiating this development with exchange4media, says Haresh Chawla, CEO, TV 18, "Yes. We will move out of One Alliance once our current arrangement with them gets over. The talks are still on. Both the companies, Zee Telefilms and TV 18 have taken this to their board". According to sources, ZEE and CNBC were waiting for stock market notification before making a formal announcement, and it came through last evening. CNBC contract with One Alliance will get over by April 2003.
Complete bouquets are in vogue as far as ad sales and channel distribution is concerned. Though with CNBC - the business channel joining in, ZEE Turner bouquet seems to be more or less complete, One Alliance is likely be interested in a music channel (MTV?) and a news channel (NDTV?) to get all the genres on board. Meanwhile, rumours are afloat that ZEE might be launching its own sports channel next year - though Apoorva Purohit, President, ZEE TV denied that there were any such plans in the pipeline.
In December 2001, Zee and Turner merged their distribution teams into a single Zee-Turner joint venture, where Zee has a stake of 74% and Tuner has the remaining 26%. Zee Tuner, which is headed by Sunil Khanna, till now, comprised of all channels of Zee Group and three channels (Cartoon Netwrok, CNN and HBO) from Turner.
One Alliance, a joint venture by Sony Entertainment Television and Discovery Channel, headed by Shantonu Aditya, was formed with a view to create a new platform of six channels, comprising Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, SET, MAX, AXN and CNBC.