Zee plans Russian channel foray

Zee plans Russian channel foray

Author | Source: Business Line | Saturday, Jun 24,2006 7:21 AM

Zee plans Russian channel foray

Bullish on growth of direct-to-home business

Other initiatives

A separate business paper `DNA Money' has been launched in a few cities of Madhya Pradesh and Jaipur.

Siticable will be digitising cable networks.

Zee Telefilms is set to launch in September a 24-hour movie channel in Russia that will telecast Indian films dubbed in Russian.

The company in March had launched a 24-hour channel in Bahasa language in Indonesia, taking its international channel portfolio to 17, in addition to the 25 services it telecasts within the country, said Mr Subash Chandra, Chairman, Zee Telefilms Ltd, in an interview to Business Line.

Earlier, addressing the Madras Management Association, he said of his various foreign language forays: "Films are the best medium to spread our culture." On today's TV programming, he said the stories and themes, though fetched high TRPs, did not reflect the present state of society. "Zee is consciously making an effort to change programming," he told this newspaper later. A recent experiment was introducing one hour-long serial formats, which, Mr Chandra said, does pull in viewers. "It seems to be working as people are liking it," he added.

Commenting on Zee's better showing in the viewership sweepstakes for its various shows, Mr Chandra said that "certain" things catch the attention of viewers and get them to watch programmes. "And, also, quite often, viewer fatigue from competition forces them to try others," he said. He was bullish on the growth of direct-to-home television in the country. "There will be a drastic change in the DTH business in one year," he said.

Recently, Sony Entertainment also came on to the Dish TV platform and Mr Chandra was confident that new Tata-Sky DTH operator would also seek Zee's programming when it starts beaming from July.

He said that DishTV had a lakh subscribers in Tamil Nadu and over 1.15 million subscribers nationwide.

Asked whether losing the cricket telecast rights in the second round of bidding called for by the BCCI was a loss for Zee Sports, he said "Everything is good up to a limit. Cricket telecast rights were good for a certain price; we don't think what Nimbus is paying is viable."

Last year, Zee was involved in a legal battle with BCCI and ESPN over the award of telecast rights to Zee.

This was finally scrapped and in the fresh round of bidding earlier this year, Nimbus bagged the rights up to 2010 for $612 million while Zee's bid of $530 million fell short.

Asked about his print media foray through the DNA newspaper in Mumbai, Mr Chandra said that he was in it for the long haul. "We've got good response; we have a print order of 2.86 lakh and net paid sales of 2.72 lakh," he said.

A separate business paper DNA Money has been launched in a few cities of Madhya Pradesh and Jaipur, he said, adding that he was not looking at forays in regional language newspapers.

A part of Zee's cable TV business, Siticable (to be known as Wire and Wireless India Ltd) will be digitising cable networks. He said that post-digitisation, the company would look at sharing its infrastructure with telecom companies for voice-based services. Zee TV is also looking at providing online content (on the Internet).

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