It is taking place faster than what one may have thought. Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) was toying with the idea of launching a second general entertainment channel that would be targeted at the youth and the New Age viewers, and now the project is soon turning into a reality.
The charge of this new project also lies with Punit Goenka, who heads the flagship channel Zee TV, and has seen it turn from a weak No. 3 player to a strong contender for the numero uno spot. The channel is in the process of hiring people in various functions, and the first leg of appointments has taken place in the programming division.
The working title of the channel is Zee Next. However, Goenka informed that an official name had yet to be finalised. Sukesh Motwani has been appointed as the channel’s Content Head. He comes from Tony and Deeya Singh’s DJ’s Production. Without offering any details, Goenka informed that the content commissioning was also beginning for the channel.
In the present state, the channel content mix is expected to include soaps and format shows, as is seen on GEC. The idea, however, would be to bring in a fresh line of thinking in this content. When asked whether the intent to target the channel at the youth and the New Age viewers continued, Goenka said that much had to be still decided on that. The launch date hence, too has not been decided, but the intention is to launch the channel in 2007.
The sales team is all geared. Simran Hoon has been moved from Zee TV to handle the sales of Zee Next as Senior VP-Ad Sales. Joy Chakraborthy, President, Network Sales, has informed that a team of 15 will be put in place for the channel. He said, “We want a dedicated team to handle this project. We are waiting to close in on a launch date, prior to which we intend to do road shows with the content of the channel. We will then take it to the market.”
In his experience, Chakraborthy has seen STAR One being added to the STAR India bouquet, with STAR Plus as the mainstay GEC of the Network. He admitted, “We are expecting the media agencies and clients to raise various questions on how this channel will help them, especially at a time when there are various plans of GECs being announced.”
NDTV Imagine, INX Media, Viacom-18 and SaharaOne, among others, are expected to launch Hindi GECs soon.