Television

Zee brings English fare to viewers

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Zee Telefilms' is set to enter the English movies and English general entertainment segment with its two channels Zee Movies and Zee English which are slated for launch on 15 March, 2000. Both the channels are to be encrypted and will be beamed from AsiaSat-3. "Television for the dot com generation" is the slugline for the two channels.

The channels are expected to cater the Category "A" audience and claim to have a huge library of popular movies and other software. Zee English which is the general entertainment channel claims to have rights of popular serials like "Friends" and "The Benny Hill Show". The channel boasts to have the last four year programming of the most popular serial in the US "Friends" while competing channel Star World has only the earlier three years of the popular sitcom.

Zee Movies has acquired around 700 titles of English films from various houses like CBS, Warner Brothers, Pearsons, Carlton, Freemantle, Diskovery and Passport International. It would telecast five new movies everyday which would then be repeated.

HBO, which undoubtedly is among the biggest cable movie channels in the world, will enter the Indian skies soon and could be a threat to Zee Movies. It already has drawn a huge line-up of popular Hollywood movies and would begin its test runs from 15 March, 2000 and is slated to be officially launch on 22 March.

Zee Telefilms apparently has fixed the rates for Zee Movies and Zee English at Rs 5 and Rs 4 per subscriber. HBO's sticker price is Rs 5.45. The network is slated to price its set-top boxes at around Rs 12,500 each which is way below that of the competing HBO which will price its boxes above Rs 25,000. This is likely to work in favour of Zee Movies in Indian cable TV homes. Zee would stand at an advantage due to the strong distribution network of SitiCable.

Zee English and Zee Movies are expected to fill in the vacant space in the Zee Telefilms' bouquet which lacked English programming.

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