Zee Media Corporation Limited (ZMCL), a subsidiary of Subhash Chandra-owned Essel Group, is speculated to revamp its free-to-air (FTA) channel India 24x7. The inside information is that India 24x7 will soon be rebranded as Zee Hindustan, a news channel focussed on tracking developments from Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
Though top executives from Zee Media refrained from confirming or providing an official explanation regarding the move, the decision appears to have been taken after noticing that India 24x7 was cutting into Zee News’ audience share. While highlighting key business decisions as part of an earnings release to the stock exchanges on February 3, ZMCL said, “India 24x7, earlier our national channel for rural markets, had a significant overlap of audiences with Zee News when the latter was converted into a free-to-air channel.” To rectify the same, the management felt the need to clearly identify the core market of India 24x7. “(It) has a very strong presence in Uttar Pradesh/Uttarakhand markets. Therefore, the management has decided to position it as an Uttar Pradesh/Uttarakhand channel,” said the company to the stock exchanges.
Earlier named as Zee Uttar Pradesh/Zee Uttarakhand, the channel was renamed as Zee Sangam in March 2014. Thereafter, ZMCL converted Zee Sangam into a national news channel on October 24, 2015. Accordingly, Zee Sangam underwent rebranding to become India 24x7. In a space of slightly more than three years, the channel is slated to be rebranded for the third time.
Presently, ZMCL operates 11 news channels out of which eight cater to regional audiences. Last year, the company entered the realm of international English news broadcasting via World is One News. Alongside WION, ZMCL recognises Zee Kalinga News, Zee Madhya Pradesh Chhattisgarh, Zee Rajasthan News and Zee Purvaiya as new businesses at the moment. In the fiscal year 2016-17, ZMCL’s new channels did not generate any subscription revenues over a period of nine months from April-December 2016.
Despite the fall in subscription revenues, the company managed to increase its advertising revenues amid demonetisation woes. ZMCL has vested the leadership of its regional news broadcast business in the hands of Jagdish Chandra, who moved on from ETV News Network a few months back. Initially, Chandra joined as CEO – Regional News Channels but was soon elevated to the position of Executive Director – Regional News Channels.