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Chandra's son Punit Goenka shakes it up at MipCom

CANNES: He has the same passion to succeed that his father displayed. The same aggression. The same shrewd intelligence. And he’s doing something that his father did when he went on to set up Zee TV which became the driver of the cable and satellite television business in India in the early nineties. Creating something from ground up: the Zee Network’s DTH network, DishTV.

Meet Punit Goenka, the CEO of Agrani, as he strives to set up what will be India’s first DTH provider. The transponders are in place with Insat. "I’ve booked quite a few of them. In fact most of the Ku-band capacity is with us and we have very good relationships with ISRO," he says.

The 28-year-old Goenka has been at the E-City Entertainment booth in Cannes Palais de Festivals along with other senior executives from the Zee Network - Ajay Gupta and Abhijit Saksena, among others, over the past three days. This apart he has been hobnobbing with sales people from various production and distribution houses and television network executives globally. His goal: acquire content for his Dish TV.

If the name DishTV sounds quite akin to Echostar’s Dish Network in the US which is resisting Rupert Murdoch overtures in the DTH market there, don’t be surprised.

For after all isn’t Punit, a chip off the old block, willing to take the battle to the enemy camp? Just like his dad Subhash Chandra did when he scrapped with media baron Rupert Murdoch, finally buying him out from the Zee-Star TV partnership.

"I am cobbling together material for an English language action channel," says Goenka. "I have picked up about 1,000 hours of factual programming covering lifestyle, documentary, kids. And yes, I am looking at doing deals for another 300 hours year on year with three-five year lock in periods. I would like to do channel licensing, partnership deals too."

Additionally, he points out that he is in the market to buy close to 1,000 film titles for channels he would like to create for Dish. "My goal is to build the subscriber base of Dish to 750,000 in year one. And create a bouquet of 200 channels." The revenue target: Rs 500-600 million in year one.

Reacting to Chernin’s statement that the Zee TV DTH offering was a soft launch, Goenka said, "Of course, it is a soft launch. But the hard and full scale launch will follow."

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