After consolidating its foothold in the Hindi general entertainment space, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) is all set to strengthen its presence down South. Apart from launching a Tamil GEC, the media behemoth is also looking at the Telugu and Tamil news and Malayalam general entertainment space.
Though Zee Network has tasted success with Zee Telugu and Zee Kannada in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, respectively, which were considered less cluttered (though the scenario has changed now with the launch of Suvarna TV and Kasthuri TV) as compared to Tamil Nadu and Kerala, it does not have a presence in Tamil Nadu, a fiefdom of Sun Network, and Kerala. Now with Zee’s blueprint for Tamil Nadu and Kerala becoming clearer, it is all set to become a pan-South India player and a potential competition to market leader Sun Network.
Apart from the few launches on the cards, ZEEL is also investing in talent to boost the South operations. The Network recently roped in G Ramprasad as CEO, Zee South, while V Chandrasekaar Barathi (Chandru) has been appointed as Business Head of Zee Tamil. Ramprasad, who passed out of IIM Calcutta in 1984, attended the Senior Executive Program of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, USA in 2001. Prior to his new assignment, Ramprasad was the President of TI Cycles from the Murugappa Group, where he was instrumental in effecting a turnaround of TI Cycles after taking charge in April 2005.
Earlier, in the Murugappa Group as CEO of Parryware Business, Ramprasad oversaw the rapid growth of the Group’s bathroom products business to reach the No. 1 position in the sanitaryware market. Prior to the successful stint of nearly nine years with the Murugappa Group, Ramprasad was with Hindustan Lever Ltd (now Hindustan Unilever) in sales and operations functions. He has also been associated with Sara Lee in India.
Zee Tamil was well geared to become operational, except for a few regulatory issues, Ramprasad said. When asked about the positioning of Zee Tamil, he said, “We will follow the Zee Kannada and Zee Telugu strategy, which has worked very well, for the Tamil GEC as well. The channel will be different and cater to various sections of the society.” He, however, declined to give information about the content, saying, “It is very premature to speak about the content. You will have to see and experience it. Content is the key thing, and obviously, I cannot reveal too much about it. We believe we got the right mix, which will appeal to the consumers.”
Earlier, sources in Zee Tamil said that the channel would go on air on June 15. However, the launch is yet to happen. According to a source in Zee Tamil, the channel was waiting for the launch of state-owned Arasu Cable TV Corporation, which is slated for July 15. The launch of Arasu Cable TV Corporation is expected to grant a breather to almost all the players as far as distribution is concerned, which is largely controlled by Sun Network’s SCV (Sumangali Cable Vision) in Tamil Nadu.
Ramprasad noted that the Tamil GEC market was cluttered, but added that there was scope for new channels. “There are more and more viewers who are looking for new content all the time, and Zee Tamil will be getting its own share of viewership,” he said.
Zee Tamil is also strengthening its movie library and has already picked up the rights of some hit Tamil films, including ‘Arasangam’, starring actor and politician Vijayakanth.
Meanwhile, Zee Network has also forayed into film production and is looking at Tamil movies. “Movie production has been one of our successful efforts in some other languages such as Hindi and some regional languages, and we would like replicate the same story here,” Ramprasad added. He, however, refused to divulge the names of the films that were under production.