Mumbai, Aug 12: Zee Network has pre-empted the Hyderabad-based Eenadu group by launching a 24-hour Marathi channel on August 15, ahead of its scheduled plan.
Eenadu plans to launch a 24-hour Marathi news channel soon. Zee had earlier announced that it would launch three regional channels including Marathi under the direct-to-operator (DTO) service in September-end.
Zee Marathi will initially be free-to-air but become a pay channel under the DTO service on November 14. The channel will be available on AsiaSat 3 but eventually move to PAS-4. "We will be able to cover the entire Marathi-speaking diaspora across the AsiaSat 3 footprint. We will move to another satellite when we go digital," said Ranjan Bakshi, vice-president, corporate communications, Zee Network.
Zee has also decided to defer its DTO service to November 14. Under the digital package, the regional channels, Marathi, Bengali and Punjabi, will go pay along with the three existing channels -- Zee Cinema, Zee News and Music Asia. Zee TV,however, will remain free-to-air.
Zee Marathi will have a 12-hour capsule which will be telecast twice. There will be six hours of Marathi feature film, two hours of soap operas, one-and-half hours of women-oriented programming and an hour of religious discourse at 6 in the morning. There will be two-and-a-half-hour news bulletin at 8.30 am and 9.30 pm. The midnight news will be a repeat telecast of the prime-time news bulletin.
Zee Network has already acquired 100 Marathi movies and some top-rated Doordarshan programmes. Zee Marathi will also air some popular shows of Zee TV, the network's Hindi entertainment channel. Original programming for Zee Marathi, however, will start when the channel goes pay.
Zee Marathi will screen two movies every day, which will have a repeat telecast. While the afternoon movie at 2 will be repeated at 12.30 am, the prime-time film will be shown at 9 am.
The channel will air dubbed Zee TV shows and a few DD re-runs. The network has acquired DD shows like Aakar and Awaz.The popular Zee TV shows to be telecast on the Marathi channel are Commander, Parampara, Sailaab Hum Aapke Hai Who.
The channel will also be filled with songs and a cookery programme every day.The Marathi channel will be kicked off on Sunday with a half-hour launch show. At 8 am, the channel will telecast live the Independence Day parade. The first Marathi movie to be screened is Warnecha Wagh while the prime-time feature film is Yethe Shahana Rahatat.
The DD re-runs to be aired on the first day of launch are Aakar and Awaz while the dubbed version of the Zee TV show Commander will be telecast at 6.30 pm.
Will the Zee Marathi news bulletin be able to compete with Doordarshan 10? While DD's focus is national news in Marathi, Zee will be providing news about Maharashtra in Marathi.
Copyright © 1999 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.