New Delhi: The Bombay Stock Exchange-listed broadcaster of news channels such as Zee News and Zee Business, Zee News Ltd (ZNL), plans to launch two new regional channels this year and is considering an English news and a business news channel.
“We are evaluating the options for launching a general news channel and a business news channel in English,” said Barun Das, chief executive officer of ZNL.
Meanwhile, the company’s flagship Hindi news channels will be relaunched soon with a new editorial strategy as well as several cosmetic changes.
ZNL’s chief executive officer Barun Das says the company is not in the race for TRPs
Both Zee News and Zee Business will soon sport a modified logo and the current tagline—Haqeeqat Jaisi Khabar Waisi (news is what reality is) will also be changed, Das said.
“Many Hindi news channels tend to underestimate viewers’ intelligence in the race for TRPs (television rating points that indicate the viewership share of a channel),” he insists. “We, however, have always been committed to hard news. The relaunch is aimed at building on this strength to create a pull among consumers rather than rely on the cable operator to give us a good placement so that passive surfers will watch us.”
Zee’s plans come even as Indian television business is seeing an unprecendented increase in the number of channels across all genres. Some of that is being driven by existing players expanding their portfolios, but there have also been several new entrants, raising doubts about the viability of so many new offerings.
ZNL recently appointed B.V. Rao as group editor. Rao is a 24-year veteran of print and TV journalism, and most recently a senior executive editor at Star News. “Our prime time line-up is going to change. We’ll put the focus back on hard news. Our new editorial strategy will attempt to change the Hindi news broadcasting space,” Rao said.
ZNL also runs six regional entertainment channels—Marathi, Bangla, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati and Punjabi. However, the operations of these channels are outsourced to Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd, the group company that runs TV channels such as Zee TV and Zee Cinema.
ZNL also runs two regional news channels—Zee Chaubis Taas in Marathi and Akash Bangla in Bangla—as well. The latter is run by Zee Akaash News Pvt. Ltd, a 60% owned joint venture with Kolkata-based regional broadcasting company SkyB Pvt. Ltd.
Of the two planned regional news channels, one will be in the south, Das said.
One of the problems of this media boom has been an acute shortage of journalists.
Indeed, Zee said it will also get into the media education business this year with the launch of a media school.
“The institute will offer courses in all aspects of journalism and other skills required to succeed in today’s media environment,” Das said, adding that through the media school, the firm will also diversify into research and consultancy business.
ZNL had said in January that net profit in the quarter ended 31 December fell year-on-year by 10.2% to Rs12.8 crore.
The company is part of the Essel Group, promoted by Subhash Chandra.