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Zee group to enter film production after 5 years

By Suveen K Sinha in Mumbai
December 15, 2006 03:18 IST
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Mumbai-based media house Zee is undergoing a massive restructuring and has decided to bet again on film production, link its cable business directly with subscribers and enter China while beaming a Chinese general entertainment channel into India.

Promoter Subhash Chandra and family used to hold 44 per cent equity in Zee Telefilms, which housed all its media and related businesses.

After the restructuring, which has created four companies, they will hold 44 per cent equity in Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (earlier Zee Telefilms), 44 per cent in Wire & Wireless India (earlier Siticable Network), 54 per cent in news company Zee News Ltd and 67 per cent in Dish TV India (earlier ASC Enterprises).

Pradeep Guha is the chief executive officer of Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, JS Kohli of Wire & Wireless India, Arun Kapoor of Dish TV and Harish Doraiswamy of Zee News. Puneet Goenka, Chandra's son, is in charge of content at Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd.

Zee, which now controls 400 screens across the country through its Fun Republic, Digital Cinema and Bioscope, is coming back into film production after five years.

"We did not make anything after Gadar (starring Sunny Deol) because we received only Rs 38 crore of the Rs 150-160 crore the film earned. Unless you have your own distribution there is no point in making films. We will enter film production again and the first film will be released in May-June 2007," Chandra told Business Standard.

In the cable business, the group is connecting directly with subscribers by taking control of last-mile connections and has lined up Rs 500 crore as infrastructure investment.

The company's grouse is that it gets paid for only about a third of its over 7 million cable subscribers. "We will make strategic acquisitions of cable operators or multi-system operators," said Chandra.

The group recently tied up with CCTV, a Doordarshan-like general channel of China, and will soon start beaming it in India on its platform.

CCTV, on its part, is helping Zee enter China. "We are stabilising our operations in Russia, the Persian Gulf region and Indonesia and getting into China," said Chandra.

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Suveen K Sinha in Mumbai
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