Walt Disney's Eisner coming to India

MUMBAI: India seems to be the favourite destination for media czars. After News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch it's the turn of Walt Disney Company CEO Michael D Eisner to come for a high-profile visit.

His two-day India tour will start next week; the first halt being Delhi. This is part of the Asian leg of the Disney CEO's tour. And he is being accompanied by his successor Robert A Iger who is slated to take over the reins at Disney from 30 September 2005.

Eisner arrives at a time when the Walt Disney Company is attempting to widen its business presence in the Indian market.

Though definite information on Eisner's India agenda is not yet available -- as it is still being finetuned -- learns that it would entail calling on senior government representatives and interacting with select industry people.

Eisner is likely to call on prime minister Manmohan Sigh, and information and broadcasting minister Jaipal Reddy, apart from some other political and government functionaries, depending upon their availability as Parliament session would be on then.

In Mumbai, Eisner is scheduled to meet up with the CEOs and the senior executives of media companies. The guest list for a bash being planned by Disney India would include representatives of companies like Star India, Sony Entertainment Television India, Zee Telefilms, The India Today Group and The Times of India Group.

During his visit, Eisner would not only get a first hand look of the Rs 250 billion Indian media and entertainment industry, but also get to know how his company is fairing in India.

Disney launched two of its channels; Toon Disney and Disney Channel in December, which have been making steady headway in the complex Indian market that is dominated by a fragmented cable distribution industry. learns that a big bang marketing push would go into full throttle once distribution initiatives are fully in place.

In India, Disney is looking at consolidating its TV channel business before diversifying into other segments of media and entertainment.

As part of the long term plan, a Disney theme park in India, would not be out of place, for which land, reportedly, has been identified on the outskirts of Delhi.

The importance of the theme park can be gauged from the $3.5 billion Hong Kong Disneyland project, which is a joint venture between Disney and the Hong Kong government. It is expected to open to the public in 2006.

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