Alokananda Chakraborty

TVR system shakes up Zee

The channel’s disdain for the TVR system has affected its sales and marketing teams adversely

Zee has seen many key people leave in the last few months. The latest to put in his papers is Tony D'Silva, president - international business, Zee Network, who announced his decision earlier this week. D'Silva had joined the channel in December 1999 from Modi Entertainment Networks where he was CEO. A couple of weeks back, Essel Group company Playwin Infravest CEO R K Singh had left the company.

Significantly, both Silva and Singh had joined the company before the tenure of Sandeep Goyal, currently Zee group broadcasting CEO, began in May 2001.

Singh had joined Zee Telefilms in September 1999, replacing Vijay Jindal as CEO. He had clambered on board the Zee bandwagon from ESPN Software, where he had been the CEO. In December 2000, after AT Kearney submitted its report on restructuring the organisation, Singh was made group head of corporate services. Five months later, in May 2001, the current CEO, Sandeep Goyal joined the organisation as Zee group broadcasting CEO.

Ex-Zee hands point at a power struggle within the group - which they say has claimed many top jobs. agencyfaqs! tried its best to get an official version on the latest departures, but despite repeated calls to Zee's Delhi and Mumbai offices, no official confirmation was forthcoming on the information available with us.

What is evident is that Singh left soon after he was put in charge of the new Essel Group company Playwin Infravest. Closely held by Subhas Chandra and members of his family, Playwin Infravest marked the group's entry into the online lottery business. Several people have left from the advertising sales and news division too, including Satish Menon, president, Zee News; Deepak Ranjan, senior vice-president, sales; Partho Ghosh, head, advertising sales; and Monika Srivastava, vice-president, advertising sales.

Such a high turnover has been attributed by observers to in-fighting within the organisation, and more importantly, the tremendous pressure that the advertising and sales teams have come under due to the channel's much publicised disdain for the currency of the television advertising world - the TVR system.

Company insiders say there are two clear "interest groups" within the company - those who were loyal to the new CEO, and the "old hands." One major bone of contention between the two was the launch of the new programmes. As was widely reported, 22 new programmes were launched at one shot last year. Paradoxically, none of them have done well, according to the TVR ratings system. Industry sources say not much research went into the launch; one obvious fault being that the emphasis on the launch made it impossible for the company to concentrate its marketing efforts on any one programme.

Zee, however, has consistently claimed that the programmes have done well, and has blamed the TVR system for not reflecting the true picture - a complaint that was echoed by Sony recently. Which is understandable - both Sony and Zee, over the last two years, have been slowly eclipsed by STAR on the top programmes' list.

Industry sources say part of the problem also lies in how the TVR figures are read. Zee has its own set of figures to show that it is doing well. Going by INTAM figures for the eight cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Kanpur, Varanasi, Indore and Bhopal, for the C&S audience in the four-plus age group, Zee's show Mehndi Tere Naam Ki (Wenesdays, 8.30 pm to 9.00 pm) has a TVR rating of 6.3. Its Amanat (Thursdays, 8.30 pm to 9.00 pm) has a TVR rating of 4.9, figures that are prominently displayed on its site

However, going by INTAM figures for the week February 04 to 10, for 49 cities across India, Mehndi Tere Naam Ki, has just 1.8 while Amanat has 2. And worse, according to the TAM Peoplemeter Data for the week January 27, 2002, to February 02, 2002, none of the channel's shows make it to the Top 100.

The good news, however, is that the company has turned in a profit, and also acquired a 48 per cent stake in ETC Networks Ltd (a two-channel broadcaster) for Rs 17.8 crore. The company has notched up, according to unaudited financial results (provisional) for the quarter ended 31st December, 2001, a profit after tax of Rs 23.90 crores. © 2002 agencyfaqs!

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