Zee Telefilms set its Internet-based plans in action by announcing setting up an Internet service portal under the brand name 'ZeeNext'. It has been floated under a new wholly owned subsidiary 'e-connect' to be operational by March 2000.
The Subhash Chandra promoted Zee network comprises Zee TV (India's leading private satellite Television channel), Asia Today (which caters to USA, Europe and Africa viewers), Zee Music, Alpha regional channels, Siti Cable and a broadcasting company, Zee Multimedia Worldwide. The network is currently in a restructuring-cum-consolidation mode.
The move is part of the restructuring, which identifies Internet as a future area of growth. The company plans to invest Rs 4 bn for its Internet Service Provider (ISP) business during the next three years. The move is part of a greater game plan by which Zee will invest in beefing up its Siti Cable network to make it Internet compliant in addition to taking up its Direct to Home (DTH) expansion plans.
What Zee is trying to do is inter link its existing strengths in software content (over 2,000 hours of programming) and cable network (Siti Cable) to be a major ISP in the next couple of years. Zee aims to capture at least 25% market share of Internet users in India. It wants to do with Internet what it did in the satellite TV market. With Internet emerging as one of the fastest growing media in India, the strategy makes sense.
Though Zee has the creative and financial resources to pull this off, it is likely to face intense competition from Rupert Murdoch's Star Network, Sri Adhikari Brothers and Ronnie Screwala's UTV, all of whom are planning similar ventures.
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