From Zee's point of view, the bright side of the new arrangement is that the network will now have the expertise and professionalism of Star, and by extension, of News Corp, Murdoch's media organisation, behind it. Zee will now also have access to international markets and channels controlled by Murdoch in the UK, Europe and North America. For instance, if Murdoch wants, he can dislodge TV Asia from Astra 1C over the UK and Europe and put Zee there. Chandra is also talking in terms of starting a second channel in Indian languages on Asiasat 2-the satellite that becomes available to Star in December 1994. In a coup, Chandra's ZTL has also got a 10-year contract to supply programmes to ATL, and he claims that he will remain the exclusive supplier. From Star's point of view, they have got what they wanted: a Hindi channel over the region. Murdoch had announced his intention to start such a channel soon after taking over Star. Murdoch's executives can actually use this opportunity to understand Indian conditions better, and then stike when the time is ripe.
For the viewer, nothing is going to change on the screen immediately. It's still not decided whether Zee will officially become a part of the Star platform. The deal also doesn't mean that Murdoch will pump money into the channel. Says Horrell: "For us it's an ideal situation that Zee programming comes cheap. We're happy that the mass audience is watching. We're not bothered about the quality-finicky viewer."
For the moment, even though Chandra and his "family" have lost 49.9 per cent of the stake to a potential raider, Chandra can take comfort from the fact that he not only managed to stave off Murdoch but he also resisted the attempts by several Indian tie up with the billionaire. Not only that, the market believes he got a good price from Murdoch for selling the stake-both the parties, however, are tight-lipped on the exact figure. Chandra is holding up this deal as a certificate of merit from Murdoch. What has he done to deserve this? He claims that both ZTL and ATL are going to show profits by the end of the current financial year. "ZTL's profit before tax will be about Rs 10 crore," he says, adding "and ATL should make a profit before tax of $0.5 million to $1 million."
It remains to be seen whether the viewer is going to profit by the new arrangement.
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