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Zee Media looking to launch news channels in Gujarati and Urdu

MUMBAI: Subhash Chandra-promoted Zee Media Corporation Ltd (ZMCL) is looking to launch news channels in Gujarati and Urdu.

ZMCL has got the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting’s (MIB) approval to rename its existing licences Zee Urdu and Zee 24 Kalak.

As per the updated list issued by the MIB for February 2017, Zee Shopping and Zee Bihar Jharkhand have been renamed Zee Urdu and Zee 24 Kalak. The language of the uplinking licences has been changed to Urdu and Gujarati/Hindi.

Earlier, in February 2016, ZMCL had received two licences under the names Zee 24 Hour Business and Zee Bihar Jharkhand. Subsequently, Zee 24 Hour Business was renamed Zee Shopping while the name Zee Bihar Jharkhand remained unchanged.

ZMCL COO Rajiv Singh refused to comment when asked about the name change of the two licences. It is unclear if and when the company will eventually launch these two channels.

Nevertheless, the time is ripe for ZMCL to enter the Gujarat market as the assembly elections in that state are slated for December. Elections are a good platform for news channels. GSTV and Sandesh News had launched just ahead of 2012 assembly polls.

The key players in the Gujarat TV news market are TV9 Gujarati, ABP Asmita, GSTV and VTV Gujarati. Sandesh News’ licence was cancelled recently by the MIB.

Zee Urdu will give ZMCL a foothold in the nascent Urdu market. Incidentally, ZMCL’s sister concern ZEEL already runs a pay Urdu infotainment channel named Zee Salaam. ETV News Network’s ETV Urdu is the dominant player in the Urdu news market. Sahara India’s Aalami Samay is another key player in the market.

ZMCL has a cluster of news, current affairs and regional news channels, including Zee News, Zee Business, India 24×7, WION, Zee Punjab Haryana Himachal, Zee Madhya Pradesh Chhattisgarh, Zee 24 Taas, 24 Ghanta, Zee Kalinga News, Zee Purvaiya and Zee Rajasthan News. The company recently agreed to acquire 49% stake in Reliance Broadcast Networks’ FM radio business.