Zee and Star warring again?

24 Aug,2017

By A Correspondent


Journalist and broadcasting industry professional Anjan Mitra captured it right. “Sense of deja vu for old timers & those hacks like me who covered media as a beat in mid90s to mid 2000:Zee vs Star,” he posted on his Facebook timeline.


On Wednesday evening, when media offices received a mail from the Dish TV PR agency along with a letter from company bossman Jawahar Goel, it did remind many a journalist of the mid-1990s/2000s when the two networks were warring fiercely.


A journalist who covered the beat then recalled how he had received anonymous dockets twice over against Star India founder and media tycoon Rupert Murdoch. Another journalist recalls how what was rivalry fought more to ward off Murdoch from the Indian broadcast scene reached a new high when Star India beat Zee with the launch of Kaun Banega Crorepati in 2000.


It took Zee some years including re-engineering of its operations to bring back its old, glory days.


However, there has been much public display of camaraderie between the two network in the recent past. It even led to the formation of a distribution arm called ‘Mediapro’ which was later disbanded.


Star India CEO Uday Shankar and Zee MD have also known to be friends, and have collaborated on many industry initiatives. In fact it’s their collective leadership that has led to many of the recent successes of the broadcast industry, including warding off any government intervention and the successful launch of the audience measurement system under the joint industry body BARC India.


We don’t know whether this salvo has the backing of Zee group chairman and now Rajya Sabha MP Dr Subhash Chandra. Goel, Chandra’s brother, is also known to be independent, but observers say the current move couldn’t have been made without the blessings of Chairman Chandra.


But more than the speculation whether the two networks are at war, the issues that the Jawahar Goel letter raises could majorly impact the process of awarding the rights for telecast of IPL.


And even if Star eventually does win the rights for the cricketing league, the process for charging consumers (via cable distributors and DTH operators) could be be totally governed by pricing policies issued by telecom regulator TRAI which may well make the entire proposition unattractive.


DishTV letter against possible monopoly in cricket telecast if Star India wins IPL rights is sure to be taken very seriously by all recipients especially the politicians who can’t afford to displease consumers.


Please click here for the Jawahar Goel letter


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