Television

Zee Telefilms to launch two more FTA channels

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NEW DELHI: The Subhash Chandra-promoted Zee Telefilms is very bullish on certain aspects of conditional access system (CAS) and feels that it is rightly positioned to take advantage of the evolving scenario in the country. On cue, it has decided to launch two other channels in the free to air mode.



"The company would be launching two more channels soon," Zee Telefilms director, news group, Laxmi Goel told indiantelevision.com. Though he did not give a time frame for the launch, Goel did admit that the two proposed channels would be free to air.



India's largest vertically integrated media company would come out with Zee Manasi, primarily targeted at women, and Zee Comedy, which, as the name suggests, would serve comic or light fare. Details on the two proposed channels were not available.



Industry experts felt that though the two proposed channels look like niche products, going by the sketchy information available on them, launching them in the free to air mode is surprising. Niche channels, experts felt, would work better as part of a DTH bouquet or may even work for the headend in the sky model (HITS) through which Zee is aiming at introducing CAS in a digital mode.



But Zee's plans to launch by mid-year a business news channel, Zee Biz, seems to have got stuck in bureaucratic hurdles. While information and broadcasting minister Ravi Shankar Prasad told indiantelevision today that the relevant file on Zee Biz had not yet reached him, officials in the ministry maintain that Zee Telefilms would have to undergo restructuring as per the new uplinking policy if it wished to get permission for uplinking the proposed business news channel from India.



"The case of Zee's business channel is being studied in the view of the new uplinking policy," a senior government official had told indiantelevision.com few days back.



As per the new uplinking policy by the Indian government, news channels desirous of uplinking from India cannot have more than 26 per cent foreign holding.



The likes of Star News and CNBC India were given 90 days to comply with the regulation and it was understood that Zee News, since it already uplinked directly to a broadcast satellite from India, was to get a year's time to undergo restructuring to fulfil the norms. In Zee Telefilms, the total foreign holding is over the prescribed level at the moment.



Meanwhile, the Zee Tele scrip today closed lower by 3.86 per cent or Rs 3.20 at Rs 79.80 with volumes of 3,665,506 on the Bombay Stock Exchange.



According to a CNBC India analysis, the Zee scrip had been rising since last Tuesday, when it closed at Rs 78.20. But the stock reversed the trend yesterday to close lower at Rs 83. It hit a high of Rs 105.25 on 10 January, and a low of Rs 60.15 on 31 March 2003.

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