Television

Sports channel on Zee bouquet soon?

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ESPN Star Sports may finally have some decent competition. There has been talk in the industry for a while now that a sports channel - backed by Sharjah cricket series' head honcho Abdulrahman Bukhatir - may be launching in the near future.





National broadcaster Doordarshan's DD Sports channel is there of course but being government backed, the equation is not quite the same.

Industry sources indicate a deal is in the final stages of negotiations which will see the channel being launched as part of the Zee bouquet. No dates have been fixed though.





Taj Sports, the company that Bukhatir set up to produce sports television programming out of Sharjah, which includes cricket, is said to be the channel's promoter company. Chris McDonald, former ESPN Star Sports senior V-P, advertising and integrated sales, and the man Bukhatir hired to head Taj Sports, will be running the show, the sources say.





What the channel will be providing - if and when it takes off - as far as programming is concerned is still unclear (other than the Sharjah cricket series that is). One could of course argue that that would still be better than what Sony's MAX offers by way of cricket (Bangladesh and Seven's cricket in Hong Kong).





With HBO, Cartoon Network and CNN having just been added to Zee's bouquet with the announcement of a joint venture with Turner International (India) Private Ltd, Zee will be able to offer a complete subscriber package if the Sports channel takes off.





It should be recalled however, that Zee has been trying unsuccesfully to launch a sports channel for well on two years now. This time the tale may be different though; what with Bukhatir supposedly bankrolling the channel.

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