News is now looking towards West Bengal. Having bought 26 per cent stake in Sky B (Bangla), the channel will handle the marketing, advertising sales and programming initiatives of Akaash Bangla, Sky B's 24 hour Bengali infotainment channel.
Both Zee News and Sky B spokespersons refused to put a figure on the percentage and the worth of the deal.
According to Barun Das, chief executive officer, Zee News, the company is seriously looking at East India, so the tieup will strengthen its effort "to emerge as the single largest electronic media player in the region". Just last month, Zee News launched a 24 hour news channel in Chhattisgarh and it plans to start a similar channel soon in Uttar Pradesh.
The Sky B spokesperson says, "We will be leveraging Zee News' expertise, experience and brand value to strengthen our position in the Bengal market and take Akaash Bangla to higher echelons of success. I am sure that this arrangement will further cement the cordial and productive business relationship that we have had till now with Zee News Ltd."
For the record, 24 Ghanta, the popular Bengali infotainment channel, is a 60:40 joint venture between Zee News and Sky B.
"Going forward, Akaash Bangla, coupled with Zee Bangla and 24 Ghanta, should together command around 70 per cent viewership in the Bengali market," Nitin Vaidya, head, regional channels, Zee News, was quoted as saying in an official communiqué.
Meanwhile, Zee 24 Ghante Chhattisgarh, which was launched on October 1, is a Zee News franchise. The channel was launched in association with SB Multimedia, a media company founded and promoted by the Goel group of companies, a prominent business house in the state, which has diverse interests in timber, minerals, steel and power.