Dhaleta Surender Kumar

Zee News to launch Telugu channel in January

Zee News is going ahead with its expansion plans despite the economic downturn and the cost-cutting measures being implemented across industries in the country

Defying the economic slowdown, Zee News is going ahead with its expansion plans and launching Zee 24 Gantalu, a 24-hour Telugu news channel, in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, in January 2009. This will be followed by the launch of a yet to be named 24-hour news channel exclusively for Uttar Pradesh.

According to Barun Das, chief executive officer, Zee News, Zee 24 Gantalu is targeted at males, SEC ABC, in the age group of 25-44 years. “Our strategy is to carry hard news, both national and local.” The channel will compete with news channels such as TV9, ETV2, TV5 and Gemini News. Zee also beams Zee Telugu, a Telugu GEC (general entertainment channel), in Hyderabad.

Zee News to launch Telugu channel in January
Zee News to launch Telugu channel in January
In a conversation with afaqs!, Das says, “Around Rs 20-22 crore has been assigned for capital expenditure, while Rs 13-15 crore will go into operational expenditure per year.”

Shailesh Reddy has been appointed business head for Zee 24 Gantalu. Reddy used to head the Hyderabad news bureau of Zee News. He has more than 13 years of experience in journalism and started his career with Eenadu in 1995.

Das says that financial institutions such as Edelweiss, ICICI Securities, Macquarie and Kotak have already rated Zee News as the most preferred media company for investment, even during troubled times. “Our fundamentals are strong and we'll wade through the rough waters safely. So, there's been no hold on our expansion plans.”

After a content sharing tieup with Voice of America, the US public broadcaster, Zee News has now entered into a similar arrangement with China's CCTV. The agreement comes into effect in a week's time.

Despite all this activity, Das doesn't deny that there's inertia regarding advertising on TV channels. He says, “We can overcome the inertia, if we have tailor-made offerings for the advertisers. At the same time, let's not forget that today's buyer driven market requires that you expand at the lowest minimal cost. We have tremendous focus on BTL (below-the -line) activities to lure in advertisers.”

These BTL activities include Ananya Samman, an event to pay homage to martyrs, which will be held in Delhi on December 18; the Zee Business Bikex, a bike and accessories exhibition to be held soon in Delhi; and Zee Business' Hunt for the Smart Indian Investor being held in 33 cities in the country.

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