Television

ZTL likely to get 3 months more for Zee News' restructuring

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NEW DELHI: The Indian government is likely to give the Subhash Chandra-promoted Zee Telefilms an extension of three months, beginning 26 March, 2004, to complete a restructuring of Zee News to comply with the news channels uplinking norms.

Government sources told indiantelevision.com today that Zee Tele had moved an application on 10 March indicating that it would be undertaking a restructuring of Zee News to comply with the rules and regulations.

Keeping their intention in mind and the submission that the whole process would take some time, including various clearances that have to be processed, it has been decided in principle to give Zee News a three-month extension, government sources explained. This is being done as the information and broadcasting ministry would be unable to complete processing the Zee application soon.

In other words, since the government would not be able to process the clearances quickly, considering the present government does not have the mandate to take important policy decisions, an extension to Zee News to be on air comes as a default.

According to guidelines announced by the government last year in March, in the wake of the Star News controversy, which had generated lot of heat in the domestic media industry, any news channel desirous of uplinking from India cannot have more than 26 per cent foreign holding in the news venture.

At the moment, Zee News is an operation under Zee Telefilms, a listed company in which total foreign holding is over 60 per cent. According to informed sources, Zee Telefilms has decided that the news operations, including the assets, would be transferred to Zee Sports, an Indian company that is majority controlled by Indian shareholders. Whether Zee Sports at any given time in future would attract some foreign investment is not known at the moment.

The model that is being followed by Zee Tele is somewhat similar to Star News, where a separate company manages the news operation. In Star News case, it is a joint venture company in which 74 per cent is held by the Kolkata based ABP Group, while the remaining is with Star Group Ltd. Hong Kong.

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