Zee Turner wooing CNBC India; SET Discovery seeks to add music, news channel to distribution offering

The courting game is on in right earnest in the distribution arena. And it is on the Zee Turner and SET Discovery distribution platforms where the action is.

A Zee Turner executive confirmed to today that talks were on with CNBC India and MTV India to bring them aboard. He was speaking on the sidelines of a seminar on conditional access systems (CAS) organised by the Consumer Electronics & TV Manufacturers' Association (CETMA) in the capital.

Asked for his response, Shantonu Aditya, head of Sony Entertainment TV (SET) Discovery Pvt Ltd, said negotiations with CNBC India were continuing.

The buzz in the industry is that production company TV18, which runs CNBC India, and has already taken over advertising generating activities from Sony, is slated to shift to Zee Turner when the contract with Sony comes up for renewal in March 2003.

Sony meanwhile, is on a hunt of its own and looking at adding more channels to its bouquet. "We are looking at channels in the space of music and news to be part of the bouquet which we distribute," Aditya said.

Aditya, was however, not forthcoming on the names of channels being considered to be part of the bouquet. "There are very few choices now in the space of music and news," he said.

Asked specifically whether the music channel was MTV, Aditya took refuge in Murphy's Law (when you cannot convince anybody, confuse him) and said, "well there is B4U Music too." 

Asked for his reaction to the news that both Zee and Sony were interested in his music channel, Alex Kuruvilla, managing director, MTV India, said: "As things stand, we are not about to join any platform. However, if anyone were to put a compelling proposition in front of us, we would definitely evaluate it very seriously." 

On the news channel front Aditya said the company was open to distributing an existing news channel or even a proposed one. "We are open to both options. But we do not want to invest in a news channel at this moment and own it," he clarified.

Media circles have been abuzz with rumours that NDTV, proposing an independent venture in news and current affairs in Hindi and English post March 2003, has been been talking to Sony for distribution of its channel(s).

Asked about NDTV's proposed news channel and a possible tie-up with SET Discovery, Aditya refused to comment. 

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