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BW Businessworld

Zee To Launch Second GEC

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Zee took a long time over it, but it is finally launching ‘Zindagi’. In the works for nearly two years, Zee has announced its second Hindi general entertainment channel (GEC) will go on air from 23 June, this year. This is to meet the competition of Star’s second GEC ‘Life OK’. Zee is also hoping to tap the increasingly upwardly-mobile urban audiences in both metros and smaller cities that are looking for more sophisticated entertainment content.

“We call it a ‘premium-mass’ GEC channel,” Punit Goenka, CEO and MD of Zee Entertainment Enterprises (ZEEL) told BW. “Zindagi will not have the typical kitchen politics, and avoid grand sets and locations that typical soaps are associated with. We will have real stories, and progressive content. The heroine will not be the jewellery-laden woman but a normal person who gets up in the morning with disheveled hair.”

Drawing a difference with Life OK, Goenka said the Star channel had a male-oriented perspective offering mythological themes and ‘thriller’ content. “We will be targeting the progressive woman instead with alternative fiction drawn from all over the world including Brazil and Pakistan. We are sure youngsters too will lap it up.”

Star had re-launched its youth channel ‘Star One’ in December 2011 as a second GEC ‘Life OK’ sparking competition among the other TV entertainment networks. While Zee began developing a channel to meet the challenge, Colors’ CEO Raj Nayak had told BW earlier that the Viacom18 network will prefer to go with one entertainment channel for some time. Hindi entertainment channels are expensive propositions, and require an investment of Rs 200 crore a year or more to keep them afloat. Star’s flagship entertainment channel is Star Plus, while ZEEL’s frontrunner is the Hindi GEC Zee TV.

Goenka said what the channel would save in opulent sets and production expense, would be spent in developing better production quality and original music scores for the serials. “There will be no use of Bollywood music; we will commission good composers like Rahat Fateh Ali Khan to do our music.”

The ZEEL chief said the business plan for the channel will target premium brands which are looking for the upper crust of the growing Indian Tier 2 and 3 consumer class. “Today, these brands prefer riding on print advertising, but we are hoping to draw them away.”

The new channel will be launching with a flagship show called ‘Zindagi Gulzaar Hai’ that features a love story between a rebel rich boy and a not-so-rich girl who views rich boys as brats to be despised. The launch will also include a sitcom ‘Aunn Zara’ – a relationship between a conservative boy with an extrovert girl that turns into a comedy of errors.

Zindagi is the 33rd channel in Zee’s broadcasting network. However, in recent months, it has shut down two channels – the fashion channel Trendz that competed with Fashion TV and Zee ETC Punjabi.