Zee rejig: 2 companies to merge with ASC Enterprise

NEW DELHI: Two companies related to the consumer service business of the Subhash Chandra-promoted Essel Group's DTH platform are poised to be merged with ASC Enterprise Ltd, which holds a DTH licence.

The companies to be merged with ASC Enterprise are Cornersoft Entertainment Co Pvt Ltd and New Era Entertainment Pvt Ltd.

This is part of the restructuring announced by Zee Telefilms late March to de-merge its various businesses into separate companies to unlock shareholders' value and conform to varying regulatory needs.

The direct consumer business is marked by division of activities between the DTH license holder ASC Enterprises Limited and subsidiaries of Siti Cable, the cable arm of Zee Telefilms. This led to lack of clarity in structure, inefficiencies in tax and diffused strategic focus, the Zee management felt.

The merger proposal, which got the in-principle okay of the Zee board, is likely to be formalised at a board meet of the company on 27 April. ASC Enterprise's DTH service is marketed under the brand name Dish TV.

Started in 2004, Cornersoft Entertainment created the 7575 interactive platform for Zee family of channels and other Essel group companies. The interaction happens on the Essel short code 7575, which during the final countdown to Sa Re Ga Ma 2005 Challenge show on Zee TV received almost 5 million SMSs per day. Such massive interaction took it ahead of the popular Times group-owned 8888 platform.

The 7575 platform has tied up with all the GSM and CDMA phone operators with a powerful national penetration of 98.5 per cent.

The mission of Cornersoft Entertainment is to integrate, connect and extend high quality and engaging content, applications and services to customers. It's positioning will help Dish TV market a range of value added services that it plans to offer to its subscribers over a period of time.

The 7575 service is also a pioneer in integrating TV-SMS, a technology solution that provides live interaction capabilities to play and interact while watching a particular show. Over a period of time, other value added services like ring tones download have also been introduced.

On the other hand, New Era Entertainment markets the Dish TV services in the country. Launched in October 2003, Dish TV has close to one million subscribers and is presently said to be adding approximately 3000 subscribers every day as awareness about such a service increases in India.

The Zee Telefilms stock on the Bombay Stock Exchange closed Wednesday at Rs 241.5, down by Rs 2.35, after opening at Rs 243.85. At the National Stock Exchange, the scrip closed at Rs 241.7, down by Rs 2.30 from the last day's close of Rs 244.

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