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Essel to swell DTH bouquet by 146 channels

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Essel to swell DTH bouquet by 146 channels

Essel Corporate Group, the promoters of Zee Telefilms Limited and Dish TV, plans to increase the number of channels available on the direct-to-home (DTH) platform to around 250 from the current 104 channels by the end of 2005. The company also plans to launch a Hindi business channel soon.

Speaking to Business Standard before a pre-launch conference of the network’s Alpha Telugu channel, Ashish Kaul, vice-president (corporate brand development group), Essel Corporate Group, said that negotiations with leading channels were at various stages and those open to Dish TV’s proposals were welcome to join the DTH platform.

“We are at present in commercial negotiations with Sony Entertainment and expect the deal to come through in the next couple of weeks,” he said.

There are over 1.5 lakh customers at present who have subscribed to DTH services and Zee expects these numbers to increase during the current financial year.

Kaul said that 90 per cent of the customers who subscribed to DTH services were from the rural parts of the country.

“We are excited about our new investments supporting the DTH business. During the second quarter, we will begin full service package on Dish TV,” he said.

During the current financial year, Zee expects between three and five per cent of the cable and satellite homes to opt for DTH services.

“The switch will happen because of the value added services we offer and also because viewers can choose what they like,” Kaul said.

The company is also planning to launch some more new channels for the Indian market. This includes augmenting presence in the regional market under the Alpha brand. “We will also be launching a Hindi business channel shortly,” Kaul said.

Zee Telefilms Limited for the first quarter ended June 30, 2004, has posted a net profit of Rs 45.22 crore as compared to Rs 17.07 crore posted in the corresponding quarter last year. Total income increased from Rs 108.59 crore to Rs 169.67 crore during the quarter.

The group has posted a net profit of Rs 73.25 crore for the quarter ended June 30, 2004 as compared to Rs 62.3 crore for the same period last year. Total income increased from Rs 308.38 crore to Rs 336.54 crore for the first quarter.

Kaul also said that the company was looking at expanding its presence outside the country. “We have recently started our broadcast in Singapore and are also looking at other countries,” he said.

The company also plans to launch around four to six movies a year from now on. “There are two movies which would be released shortly and other are in various stages of production,” Kaul said.

‘Bhagmati – The Queen of Fortunes’ which would be the first animated movie to be made in the country would be released sometime in August and ‘One Dollar Curry’ a film made in association with France Television would be released in October.

Srinivas R Bhat, channel head Alpha Telugu said that the company was all set to launch their fifth regional channel, Alpha Telugu during the second week of August.

Addressing a press conference, Bhat said that there was a lot of potential for growth in regional channel languages and Zee Network wanted to cash in on this growing market.

He, however, did not give a specific date for the launch but said that the channel would be launched sometime between August 22 and 28.

Responding to a question he said that the programmes on the channel would be different from other Telugu channels.

According to him the programmes would not be dubbed or translated from other languages but would all be made exclusively for the channel.

“We would be launching a Kannada channel for the viewers in Karnataka in the next three to four months,” Bhat said.


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