Zeel may wrap up Zee Next

Zeel may wrap up Zee Next

MUMBAI: Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel) will dump its second Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) Zee Next if it fails to line up an investor before 1 April, 2009.

Zee TV‘s sibling channel, which was to be hived off to a wholly owned subsidiary company of Zeel, has been unable to get an investor interest so far. Zee Next is expected to suffer losses in the region of Rs 600 million for the full-fiscal ended 31 March 2009.

The channel has been starved of fresh content and is kept in "maintenance mode" to keep the losses under control. While the first quarter losses stood at around Rs 380 million, Zeel has been able to bring this down to Rs 82 million and Rs 81 million for the second and third quarters.

"We will scrap the channel if we don‘t get an investor. We have already capped Zee Next‘s losses and are not investing in the channel‘s content," says a source in the company.

Zeel had plans to hive off Zee Next to its wholly-owed subsidiary Asia Today Limited so that it would not capture the startup losses of the channel. The company has been unable to rope in an investor for Zee Next due to poor environment for fund raising, feeble audience ratings, and excessive competition in the Hindi GEC genre.

Zee had earlier announced it would be shutting down its loss-making Gujarati general entertainment channel from 30 April. Zee Gujarati is housed under Zee News Ltd, the company that runs a clutch of news and regional entertainment channels.

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