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Zee, Turner JV to go; Taj TV to distribute Zee and Turner channels
MUMBAI: Zee and Turner are ending their almost 12-year-old distribution joint venture, a fallout of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India’s (TRAI) content aggregator regulation that bars bundling of television channels from multiple broadcasters.
Zee Entertainment Enterprises’ wholly-owned subsidiary Taj Television will distribute the channels. These will include the Turner group of channels and Zee Group’s entertainment, sports and news channels.
According to the market buzz, Atul Das will be the president of Taj Television. He will continue with his old role as chief corporate development officer of ZEEL. This could not, however, be independently verified by TelevisionPost.com.
As reported earlier by TelevisionPost.com, Zee’s distribution business will be headed by former MediaPro Enterprise India CEO and industry veteran Arun Kapoor.
Zee’s sports broadcasting business will continue to be headed by Rajesh Sethi.
“The equity JV between Zee and Turner will stop functioning. Taj Television will distribute the channels. Turner will have Taj Television as the distribution agent for its channels,” said a source familiar with the development.
Zee and Turner had set up a 74:26 joint venture in 2002 to drive the pay TV distribution business. Zee Turner Ltd, the JV company, used to bundle the Zee and Turner groups of channels to get better subscription revenues from the multi-system operators (MSOs) and the direct-to-home (DTH) platforms.
Under the new regulation, Taj Television cannot bundle the Turner channels with the Zee channels. Though Turner will not hold equity in the distribution company, it will not break away from Zee. It will have Taj Television as the distribution agent for the Turner group of channels such as HBO, Cartoon Network and Pogo.
Taj Television will also handle the distribution of the other Essel Group-owned broadcasting companies. The channels coming under Taj Television’s belt will include Zee TV, Zee Cinema, & Pictures, Zee Bangla, Zee Marathi, Ten Cricket, Ten Sports, Ten Action, Ten Golf, Zee News and Zee Business.
After the TRAI came out with the regulation on content aggregators, this is the second restructuring undertaken by Zee and Turner. On 11 April 2014 was announced the split of MediaPro, the three-year-old 50:50 JV between Star DEN and Zee Turner.
Zee does not expect its domestic subscription revenues to be impacted due to TRAI’s new regulation on content aggregators. The split of MediaPro and the new arrangement with Turner will be neutralised by the 27.5 per cent inflation-linked rate hike TRAI has allowed for the broadcasters and the MSOs to have in two instalments, a media analyst said. The first instalment allowed for a 15 per cent increase effective 1 April 2014. The remaining 12.5 per cent hike will be effective from 1 January 2015.
TRAI’s regulation on content aggregators is bringing about major changes in the distribution companies. As reported earlier by TelevisionPost.com, the JV between IndiaCast and Disney UTV will dissolve. IndiaCast will, however, continue to distribute the Disney UTV channels as their agent. In the case of MSM Discovery, the company said that it will continue to be the distribution agent of Multi Screen Media, Discovery Communications and TV Today group of channels.