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ZEEL to shutter 9X and Zee Premiere, plans to launch Zee Café HD

MUMBAI: In a bid to cut some flab, Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) is planning to shut two of its channels, namely Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) 9X and Hindi movie channel Zee Premiere.

Zee Premiere and 9X will cease operations from 14 and 30 April respectively, a source said. Both 9X and Zee Premiere are pay channels priced at Rs 8.61 and Rs 5.03 respectively.

zee premiere logoEven as it is shutting two channels, the entertainment major plans to launch high definition (HD) version of its English entertainment channel Zee Café. The English general entertainment channel is currently available only in standard definition (SD).

Targeted at young urban Indian viewers, the channel airs shows like ‘The Big Bang Theory’, ‘Desperate Housewives’, ‘The Mentalist’, ‘Two and A Half Men’, and ‘The Vampire Diaries’.

ZEEL currently has five HD channels including Zee TV HD, Zee Cinema HD, Zee Studio HD, &pictures HD and Ten HD.

According to a source close to the development, Zee Premiere was the smallest of the channels in the Hindi movie cluster.

“ZEEL has six Hindi movie channels in different genres including two in HD. Zee Premiere was the smallest of the lot. The company is focusing on more prospective channels where there is growth,” the source stated.

9X logoAnother source added that six channels were good enough for the Hindi movie cluster. Hence, it was natural to shut Zee Premiere to concentrate energies on the other channels in the cluster.

This source also confirmed that the company was planning to launch Zee Café HD.

“Ideally Zee Café HD should have been launched long back; however, it didn’t happen for some reason. We have HD channels for all mainline channels so it is but natural to have one for Zee Café as well,” the source added.

9X, which was bought by ZEEL in 2010 from INX Media, was airing old shows from Zee TV. The Hindi GEC was a loss-making proposition when it was acquired by ZEEL. The acquisition helped the company to enjoy tax benefits.

Zee Premiere, on the other hand, was specifically designed to address viewers of a specific demographic. It aired blockbusters from modern Indian cinema, including movies such as ‘Taare Zameen Par’, ‘Dhool’, ‘Dhammal’, ‘Jodha Akbar’, and ‘Race’.

It is part of the networks’ six-channel Hindi movie cluster that includes Zee Cinema, Zee Action, Zee Classic, and &pictures besides Zee Cinema HD and &Pictures HD.

Last year, the company shut down its more-than-a-decade-old lifestyle channel Zee Trendz due to below-par performance. It had also pulled the plug on its Punjabi entertainment channel ETC Punjabi. However, ZEEL launched a new GEC Zindagi in its place. The broadcaster recently launched &TV.