Zee strikes a barter deal with DD; serials in lieu of payment

NEW DELHI: As a part of an amicable settlement, the Subhash Chandra-promoted Zee Telefilms is likely to offer Prasar Bharati some serials in lieu of Budha Films' ( a Zee group company) dues involving marketing of cricket matches on Doordarshan.

"We are trying to settle the issue amicably, as prolonging the matter won't do any of us good," Prasar Bharati chief executive KS Sarma told

This is the part of the solution that Prasar Bharati and Zee Telefilms are trying to work out as Budha Films had failed to pay DD the sum which it had promised in lieu of getting the marketing rights of BCCI-organised cricket matches on Doordarshan. Subsequent to this Prasar Bharati had moved to the court to realise part of the Rs. 4-odd billion promised.

According to Sarma, Zee is finalising a proposal whereby it can offer, in return of the Budha Films dues, some serials that have already had a run on Zee TV. The marketing aspect also has to be finalised.

"We are open to the idea of obtaining some popular serials from Zee TV as part of a solution to the payment controversy," Sarma said. He added, "It is not necessary that everybody (meaning all TV homes) has watched a serial on Zee TV and DD's audience and reach is different from that of satellite channels."

Though Chandra himself was supposed to meet up with Sarma last Saturday at the Prasar Bharati headquarters in Delhi, he could not make it at the last moment and instead a senior Zee Telefilms executive is reported to have met up with Sarma to discuss the issue.

A couple of years back, Budha Films had bid for the marketing rights of all BCCI-organised cricket matches to be telecast over DD for a whopping Rs. Four-odd billion. It had also made part payment of about Rs. 1.2 billion, but had failed to pay up the remaining amount. To recover the remaining amount Prasar Bharati had dragged Budha Films to court.

As per a court order, Prasar Bharati has encashed the bank guarantee that Budha Films had furnished anticipating high returns from its marketing activities on the popular game of cricket.

According to Sarma, various modalities have to be worked out with Zee before the case can be given the go-ahead by the Prasar Bharati board.But he did point out that re-telcasting serials or programmes are not new in the TV industry.

Star Plus, for example, has aired some serials and programmes which were produced by Nine Gold (a venture promoted by Australia's Channel Nine and India's HFCL group) for DD Metro.

After Nine Gold's contract with DD was over and the whole venture shut down, Star India had not only acquired the programmes but also brought aboard HFCL-Nine's chief executive Ravina Raj Kohli as the head of its news venture- the revamped Star News which is waiting to be unveiled on April 1, 2003.

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