Balaji hopes to laugh all the way to the bank with daily comedy on Zee

Balaji Telefilms seems set to continue its winning streak with a clutch of new serials this year, three of which will premiere on Zee and Sony within the next two months.

The production house is making its first daily comedy for Zee that will be aired some time from March 2002 in the 7:30 pm slot. Also in the pipeline is a 'woman oriented soap' to be aired in the 8 pm slot on Zee in April 2002. But the first new show of the year from the Balaji stable will launch on Sony mid-February and will be a daily afternoon show. This is scheduled to be a regular family drama in the Balaji tradition, although the cast could be fresh this time, says CEO Sanjay Dosi.

The company says it is also launching a daily soap on Udaya TV in February 2002. Close on the heels of its promising Q3 results, Balaji has also announced it had hiked its rates 35 per cent for shows airing on Star Plus. Dosi says the rate hike is effective 1 January, 2002 for all four Balaji shows that are on air on Star currently.

Furthering an announcement it had earlier that it was discontinuing programming on national broadcaster Doordarshan, Balaji said it is also ending a programme for SABe TV and one programme on Vijay TV in the coming quarter.

While 21 of Balaji's shows continued to remain in the top 30 shows in the satellite market, the share of commissioned revenues increased from 66 per cent to 76 per cent in the quarter just ended. The share of commissioned programmes rose to 268 hours as against sponsored programmes that dipped to 144.5 hours this quarter. Fresh regional programming on the other hand saw a marked increase from 130 hours to 180 hours over the previous quarter.

The company stock meanwhile hit a new 52 week high of Rs 469 today during intra-day deals, boosted by the impressive Q3 performance. The company that has forecast a 50 per cent growth in bottomline for the next year, opened at Rs 428.45, closed at Rs 442.70.

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