Alokananda Chakraborty

HBO to be part of One Alliance; ad sales to be handled by SET

In the New Year, Turner International will cease to be HBO's distributor and ad sales representative in India

After more than two years as the exclusive distributor and ad sales representative of HBO, Turner International India will make way for Sony Entertainment Television (SET) as its new ad sales representative, effective January 1, 2003. Distribution will be handled by the SET/Discovery One Alliance joint venture, it was announced yesterday during a press meet at the Oberoi Business Centre in Mumbai.

Though tight-lipped about the reasons for this development, James P Marturano, executive vice-president, HBO Asia and MD, HBO - South Asia, indicated the "commercial terms" with Sony were pretty "attractive". "Our relationship with Turner has been fruitful. In terms of reach we have seen a jump from 5 million to 15 million households, which is significant. Of course, with SET as our ad sales representative and the One Alliance platform distributing our service, we are obviously optimistic about a further hike in figures," he said.

Incidentally, industry grapevine points at Turner's plans of launching its own English movie channel in the Asia Pacific region as a reason for the break up.

In an official release, Kunal Dasgupta, chief executive officer, SET, is quoted as saying, "We are excited about the opportunities that will come from adding the premier English movie channel, HBO, to our operations. By combining the distribution efforts for these channels, we're able to create an attractive mix of popular channel services for cable carriers throughout India."

With HBO now in the picture, the One Alliance including SET, MAX, Discovery, Animal Planet, AXN and CNBC has seven members in total, which Dasgupta claims will not go "beyond 10". "Our aim is to be strong and sufficiently smaller with an emphasis on quality and complementary services," he said.

The joint venture is also seriously looking at news, music and a kid's channel to strengthen its service. Some names doing the rounds are Nickelodeon, MTV and Aaj Tak, though

Dasgupta is unwilling to put a finger on the subject. "We are exploring possibilities," is all that he would say.

Currently available at Rs 40, the One Alliance bouquet is set to see an increase in price, which

both Dasgupta and Marturano are non-committal about. A channel head is also slated to take charge of HBO at the Sony end, but Dasgupta won't reveal any names either.

Meanwhile, an interesting bit of information has come to light about CNBC. According to informed sources, the channel has decided to align with the ZEE-Turner platform for its distribution needs. Though the information could not be verified, a formal announcement on the Bombay Stock Exchange website (, however, could help clear niggling doubts.

A communiqué posted on behalf of Television Eighteen, the joint venture partner of CNBC Asia in India at 4:21:15 pm on November 25, 2002, indicates, "Television Eighteen India Ltd has informed BSE that it will consider and ratify the Distribution Agreement entered into between Zee Turner Ltd and the company for distribution of CNBC channel in India in the next Board Meeting of the Company."

A release posted on behalf of Zee Telefilms at 2:09:02 pm on the same day reads as follows: "A meeting of the Board of Directors of Zee Telefilms Ltd is scheduled on November 30, 2002, to consider and ratify the Distribution Agreement entered into between Zee Turner Ltd (a subsidiary of the Company) and Television Eighteen India Ltd for distribution of CNBC channel in India." © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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