17 June, 2021

How Zee Is Shooting Star

Lobbyists have a field day as Subhash Chandra guns for partner Murdoch's expansion plans

How Zee Is Shooting Star

IN the power games that people play, unbridled excess is often the key to runaway success. Hence the principal combatants in the great Indian television bazaar have pulled out all the stops. Swadeshi cabalists, proglobalisation lobbyists, powerful pressure groups, high-profile software producers, media columnists and peeved bureaucrats have taken up positions on one side or the other as two estranged corporate partners—one a global Goliath still struggling to steady his Indian ship, the other a desi David who knows all the tricks of the trade—engage in a fierce battle to control the minds and pockets of viewers in the world's second most populous country. No soap opera, no matter how meretricious, could have topped this real-life script that has pitted the master of the world's airwaves, Rupert Murdoch, against the homegrown Haryanvi media Houdini, Subhash Chandra, whose Zee TV is a success story everyone envies but can't emulate.

The dramatic twists and turns in the Star-Zee kickup have been edge-of-the-seat entertainment, with the...

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