Zee English and Movies launched
Two English entertainment
channels were launched on 15 March by Zee Telefilms chairman
Subhash Chandra and Chief Executive R.K. Singh in Mumbai.
Zee Movies and Zee English will be offering fierce competition
to Star World, Star Movies and HBO. Or at least so hopes
the Zee Telefilms management.
The two channels are aiming at the niche but relatively
large English speaking and understanding audiences in India
and also lovers of B-grade movies and some up-to-date series
from the US market. The launch coincides with the launch
of the preview broadcast of global movie champ HBO over
Zee English and Zee Movies are free to air currently but
will be encrypted as part of the Zee digital bouquet. The
company is bringing in a small batch of Philips IRDs to
seed the market until the transition to a digital bouquet.
Both the channels
are airing a mix of eighties, nineties, and even the most
recent season's programming from the US. On offer are series
such as ER, Friends, The David Letterman show, Here's
Lucy, Central Park West, Three's Company, Charlie Chaplin,
Twilight Zone etc on Zee English.
In a bid to raise the hackles of Zee TV's former partner
Star TV, the programming team has decided to air the consignment
of Friends episodes it has the rights to just half
an hour before it is aired on Star World.
The software for Zee Movies has been acquired from MGM,
Pearson, Carlton, Fremantle, Diskovery, and Passport International.
Some of the titles on offer include: Quest, Kazaam, Evil
Chandra points out that there will be a dedicated effort
from the Zee Telefilms programming team to produce English
language software which will find a market internationally.
"Instead of importing software from foreign countries,
we will develop our own content which will find buyers not
only in India but also in the global village," he says.
Singh believes that the two English channels will break
even in the next two to three years like any other Hindi
Will he have to eat his words in two years time?
"Unlikely," says Chandra. "Ultimately it
will be the consumer who will decide. And we are confident
we will help him decide in our favour."