Chandra's Dakshin Media to run Play TV

NEW DELHI: Play TV, India's first proposed 24 hours interactive and gaming channel, will be managed by Dakshin Media Solutions, which is an enterprise of the Subhash Chandra-promoted Essel Group.

"The company that will manage Play TV has been funded directly by the promoters of the Essel Group," the group's director and Chandra's younger son Amit Goenka told

Chandra, his family and associates promote Essel Group. Together, they hold a controlling stake in the group, which undertakes diversified activities from manufacturing laminated tubes (as those for packaging toothpaste, for example) to entertainment and real estate.

Play TV has also sought uplinking permission from the Indian government, keeping in tune with the Essel Group's philosophy of shifting uplink base of all Zee Telefilms channels to India. Zee too is an Essel enterprise.

The paid up equity capital of this company, managing Play TV, is approximately Rs. 100 million as such TV channels these days could be started at a low cost if the technology chosen is right.

Asked if Dakshin Media would rope in a foreign strategic partner, Goenka informed that the company is "not looking for FDI at this stage." He added: "For one year at least, we are not looking at attracting foreign investment in Play TV. But beyond that I cannot possibly predict the future."

Play TV, targeting a March 2005 debut, will air games, contests, music, entertainment and lifestyle programming.

At the time of launch announcement recently, Goenka had said that in Asia, Play TV is a new concept, while globally gaming, with a dash of entertainment and lifestyle, is a huge market.

Play TV will be supported by state of the art technology from Cellcast, a UK based company, which will help to set up TV SMS technology and also undertake training and developing of manpower in India.

According to Goenka, after the initial phase Play TV would aim at developing technology in-house for its programming.

Cellcast's services address the huge global market for digital entertainment and consumer services delivered over fixed-line and mobile phones, the Internet, and emerging media platforms. The services provide an effective means of monetizing content and deliver commercially viable operating models in a fast evolving consumer environment. The company is particularly focussed on the growing convergence of television, telephony and the Internet and the exciting new opportunities this is providing for broadcasters.

Game development today is a $ 10 billion industry in the US. Estimates suggest that by 2006, 529 million people across the world will play mobile, interactive TV and online games. India has more than a finger in this lucrative pie. It has emerged as a key one-stop destination for game development. According to published data, Asia Pacific currently represents about 22 per cent of the overall mobile gaming market (excluding Japan), and that is expected to grow to 41 percent by 2006. The gaming market place expects that Asia will drive a large share of the industry's revenues.

Research firm AC Nielsen is of the opinion the Indian gaming market is expected to be $ 50 million by 2005, with console and PC gaming break up of $ 35 million and $15 million, respectively. Most Indian developers have the global wireless gaming market - worth a staggering $550 million - in their sights. All of the big Indian development companies have distribution and marketing partners abroad and 75 to 80 per cent of their turnover comes in from the international and is being distributed by Jagran TV Pvt. Limited.

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