The formation of a joint broadcast distribution company is under discussion by rival entertainment giants Star India and Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) which could change India’s broadcast landscape, according to local reports.
Currently, the Star channels are distributed by Star Den, an equal joint venture between News Corporation’s Star India and Digital Entertainment Networks, the multi service operator (MSO). Zee, meanwhile, has a deal with Turner Broadcast International in which it has a 74% shareholding.
“Rupert Murdoch’s Star India and Subhash Chandra’s Zee are traditional rivals, but the new guard is having a more collaborative approach. Star India CEO Uday Shankar and Zeel MD and CEO Punit Goenka are close and are more co-operative. So a deal between the two is possible,” an unnamed industry source told online publication Indian Television.
Reported rumours of the carriage merger in the industry are strong, although details of quite how this would take shape - or indeed confirmation such a plan by the companies involved - is yet to emerge.
What is clear, however, is the immense clout such a tie up would have. Together the platforms boast about 90 channels of popular Hindi general entertainment, movies, children’s TV, English language shows and regional channels – estimated by some to account for about 40-45% of India’s broadcast industry.
“Imagine the terms they can command in the marketplace,” a ‘senior distribution industry leader’ told exchange4media, adding “no cable operator would be able to do without this company.”