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Turner, Zee may beam sports channel

27-August-2004
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Turner, Zee may beam sports channel

Turner International Asia Pacific, an AOL Time Warner group company, has made a proposal to the Subhash Chandra-controlled Zee Telefilms for jointly floating a global sports channel.

This comes close on the heels of Zee emerging as the highest bidder for the Board for Control of Cricket in India’s (BCCI) cricket telecast rights for the next four years.

Zee had outbid the field with a bid of $260 million (Rs 1,180 crore).

The deal, if concluded, will be Zee’s second partnership effort with the global media conglomerate. It currently has a 74:26 distribution joint venture called Zee Tuner Pvt Ltd., with Turner International India for television channels.

A Zee group spokesperson confirmed the developed but refused to divulge details. “We have received a proposal from Turner International for setting up a global sports channel. We are looking into it. It is too early to comment on what shape this proposal will take,” he added.

Turner’s proposal is being viewed as a shot in the arm for Zee. Though Zee as a broadcaster has a considerable presence in terms of general entertainment and movies, sports has not been its focus area. Sony Entertainment and Star India have a major presence in sports broadcasting through Set Max and ESPN-Star Sports, respectively.

“The alliance will have financial muscle to bid for further sports telecast rights. While Turner will get an entry into Indian sports business, Zee will be in a position to leverage its direct-to-home (DTH) platform. The alliance will be a win-win situation for both Turner and Zee,” an analyst said.

Time Warner, though has access to some international sports properties, its presence its relatively insignificant compared with other international media companies.

Zee Telefilms has already announced its plans to launch a global sports channel which would telecast domestic cricket in all the international markets, including the US, the UK, Middle East and South Africa.

Time Warner Inc is the world’s leading media and entertainment company with businesses including filmed entertainment, interactive services, television networks, cable systems and publishing.

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