Zee takes fresh guard for the New Year, still eyeing sports

Zee Telefilms Ltd has lined up a new set of programmes for the Year 2001 and is planning to review its strategy and investment in the sports business. The programmes Zee has scheduled spans all its related channels and is in line with the recommendations made by consulting firm AT Kearney that the company restructure its various businesses while building some new core competencies. Towards that end, Zee's Alpha brand of regional languages will also feature a wide range of new programmes.

On the sports front Zee is working out new strategies after the huge setback it received in June in the bidding for telecast rights of all ICC-organised cricket matches. Despite posting the highest bid, it was arch rival Rupert Murdoch who walked away with the booty. That effectively killed off any hope Zee had of launching a channel in the near term.

Zee, meanwhile, plans to create newer streams of content in soccer and cricket. The company's board of directors was to meet on Friday to review the plans. Zee Chairman Subhash Chandra, in the company's annual report for 1999-2000, had said: "We are giving a new impetus to sports, especially cricket and soccer.

The company is also creating newer and newer streams of content in sports, particularly in soccer and cricket." It is learnt that Zee Sports is the frontrunner to obtain the three-year exclusive broadcast rights from WSG Nimbus Pvt Ltd of Singapore, for international cricket played in Sri Lanka, according to the Business Standard.

Zee is believed to have offered to cross-promote the event through its various channels including Zee TV and Zee News across the network. How Zee approaches its sporting ambitions this time round will make for interesting watching.

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