Zee, Astro in deal for localised S-E ASIA channel

MUMBAI: Malaysia's multi-channel pay TV operator Astro is working out arrangements with different Indian companies to produce local content for its direct-to-home (DTH) subscribers. The latest is with Zee Network to launch a new dedicated channel with Hindi content, for its Indonesian, Malaysian and Brunei audiences.



The channel's content will be sourced from Zee TV, Zee Cinema, Zee Music and Trendz, Zee Telefilms Ltd chief executive officer - International Operations Dheeraj Kapuria tells "We will provide content from the library as well as have fresh content," he adds. The content will be localised with Bahasa Indonesia dubbing and Bahasa Melayu subtitling, to reflect the different language, lifestyle and viewing habits of the audiences in the three countries.

The channel, to be called Zee, is planned for launch on 1 December. It will have a movie every day, five hours of music programming, half hour of content from Trendz and the balance programming from Zee TV, says Kapuria.



Viewers of the specially packaged channel will be treated to fresh programmes with 37 hours per week of Bahasa Indonesia audio track and 54 hours per week of Malay subtitles.

The channel will be uplinked by Zee Telefilms and downlinked in Kuala Lumpur by Astro for turnaround to Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei. "We will have a revenue sharing arrangement with Astro," says Kapuria.

With total subscriber base of more than 1.7 million, Astro has produced 1,292 hours of content and 7,061 hours of subtitling last year alone, including production of the popular Akademi Fantasia, a reality-based talent programme, Miss Astro Chinese International Pageant and the International Tamil Film Awards.

Zee Network has always endeavored to localize and customize its content to suit the specific demands of each country with individual feeds of its channels for each region. This channel customization is brought to a new level with the dual-language customization for three different markets, the company says in a release.

Adds Kapuria: "Zee has always taken pride in being the first to reach out to global audiences with great entertainment from India. With this initiative, our Indonesian, Malaysian and Brunei viewers will be able to enjoy our shows better, because our content that is already popular, will now be in a language they can understand."

Remarks Astro director of programming Zainir Aminullah: "Astro always strives to bring relevant content to our viewers and this has been achieved through strong local content strategy and localization of International Channels. This partnership with Zee Network that will produce a new customized Hindi Channel will substantially increase the appeal of our service in growing our subscriber base, as well as create differentiation in driving our new market in Indonesia."

Astro has already announced joint ventures with Sun Network, NDTV and UTV.

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