Sep 24, 2008

Entertainment - Balaji to start hindi entertainment channel

Sonali Krishna & Samidha Sharma

MUMBAI: Balaji Telefilms is learnt to be finalising the blue-print of its own Hindi general entertainment venture, which is slated for launch at the end of 2008 or early 2009. People familiar with the development said that the company has also gone ahead and applied for a licence to the information & broadcast ministry. Balaji has recently snapped ties with Star India. Sources added that in order to safeguard its business interests Balaji Telefilms may not have applied for the licence under its name, and a new entity will be floated for the channel. However, Balaji Telefilms chief executive officer R Karthik was not available for comment despite several attempts.

Executives from leading broadcasters pointed out that Balaji has also been pulling out of shows from various broadcasters, to focus on its television venture. Interestingly, industry sources say that Balaji has been in conversation with Pradeep Guha, former CEO of Zee Entertainment and the man who was responsible for turning round the channel as the man to head the venture. However, no confirmation on the same could be sought. Earlier this year, Balaji parted ways with Star India in one of the biggest splits in the media and entertainment space. The termination of arrangments include the April 2007 agreement between them on the regional languages joint venture as well as divestment of Star’s 25.99% stake in Balaji. Balaji recently inked a content deal with South television major Sun TV. By doing so, Balaji automatically becomes an exclusive vendor to Sun TV, as that’s the pre-condition for any content vendor who supplies to the broadcaster.

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