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|September 27, 1999||
Zee sews up ambitious Millennium Plan; shares at Re 1 to woo rural investors
In an attempt to march ahead in the next millennium, the Zee group today announced a series of multi-million expansion plans including launching of a bouquet of channels and penetrating the radio business.
This was disclosed to the media by the Zee group chairman Subhash Chandra after the general body meeting in Bombay. The new channels in the offing include a global English channel and a 24-hour sports channel.
To start with, Zee TV would launch eight new channels under the Alpha brand by March, 2000. Already the group has launched 'Alpha Arathi' and 'Alpha Bengali' channel and would soon launch 'Alpha Punjabi'.
Chandra said that in the field of education also, Zee TV had several plans and the Zee-Ed TV would pioneer in this field. The Zee group will also launch E-connect to start Internet Service Provider business in the country. The new group will have stock options and sweat equity.
Meanwhile, at the meeting of the company, it was also decided to split the share from Rs 10 to Re 1 in order to penetrate rural areas. Now, the Zee group is also looking for strategic business partners. ''It may be a group of two-three partners excelling in various areas,'' he said. He, however, refused to divulge the details at this stage.
Chandra further said that the group has plans to launch a 24-hour sports channel which will give the viewer access to domestic as well as international sports and keep an update on current events inthe field.
Talking of promotion of sports, he said that the group has set up stadium facilities at Kathmandu in Nepal in collaboration with Cricket Association of Nepal and had the privilege of hosting World Legends Cricket inviting countries/teams like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka and Rest of the World.
The Zee group is also keeping options open to penetrate into the radio business. "We are getting a positive response from the government and once we get the green signal, we will take the plunge," he asserted.
He further added that Zee has plans to enter the global market and launch an English channel and is on the lookout for strategic partners. ''Talks are on with two to three companies with specialities in different fields for partnerships,'' he informed.
''We have already made nearly 13 low and medium budget movies for Zee TV out of which some were shown in theatres,'' he reminded and added that now the plunge will be in big budget movies and full-length animation pictures. When asked about the risks involved, he stressed that they are still raw in the field and added, ''We will know of the risks once we jump.''
Zee already has 250 purchased films for Zee Cinema and Chandra added that acquisition of films will continue with buying of old gems as well as new films from the market. He also said that Music Asia, their 24-hour music channel, will also go global.
A Rs 4 billion satellite telephone business is another venture in their gameplan and it will take in another two-and-a-half years, Chandra said and added that funds will be generated from internal accruals, borrowing and structured options for the same.
Among the other important decisions, Chandra said that entreprenueral decisions will be now taken at lower levels besides top officers like Vijay Jindal (managing director, Zee Telefilms) and himself. Six persons of the rank of deputy chief executive offiers have been appointed for the purpose. ''We are attracting good talent and these deputy CEOs are themselves seperate profit centres,'' he observed.
''We are all set for the competition,'' he concluded.
Regarding the share split, Chandra said, ''My dream is anybody, whether big or small, living in metropolitan cities or villages, should partake of the value process at Zee'', Chandra said.
He said that the split of shares into smaller denominations would enhance its access to rural investrors.
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