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Zee to expand Middle East presence with new movie channel

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MUMBAI: Zee Telefilms Ltd is gearing up to expand its business in the Middle East. The company is launching early next year a movie channel for viewers in the Arab region. This will be the second of a bouquet of customised channels Zee aims to come up with in the region.

The company also plans to introduce a separate beam for Zee Cinema dedicated to the Middle East. This will enable the Hindi movie channel to increase viewership in the region and tap local advertising.

"We plan to launch the customised movie channel by February 2006. It will have a blend of Arabic, Indian and Pakistani movies," Essel Group chief executive officer of corporate strategy and finance Rajiv Garg tells Indiantelevision.com.

Last month Zee Telefilms launched Zee Arabiya, a music and lifestyle channel for the youth in the Arab region. This was Zee's first localised channel offering in the Middle East.

Speaking on Zee Cinema's dedicated beam for the Middle East, Garg says the channel will have scope to garner local advertising revenues. "We plan to launch a separate beam by 15 January," he adds.

Zee is also eyeing the South East Asian region to offer customised content. The company has struck a deal with Malaysia's multi-channel pay TV operator Astro and will be launching a dedicated channel with Hindi content, for its Indonesian, Malaysian and Brunei audiences.

Zee's international revenues is expected to see a 15 per cent growth this fiscal, says Garg. The revenues from these new operations will get reflected in future, he adds.

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