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Plan A goes bust, need plan Z

Updated on: 26 January,2024 06:17 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Mohar Basu |

After the Sony-Zee merger is called off, sources say Zee Studios has hit pause on new films until its future strategy is chalked out; OTT division unaffected as it focuses on fresh seasons of hit series

Plan A goes bust, need plan Z

The decision hasn’t affected the fate of Zee Studios’ Maidaan; Emergency; The Broken News 2 is in the works

Earlier this week, the much talked-about merger between Sony and Zee Entertainment, which would have created a media powerhouse of sorts, fell through with the former pulling out of it. The company reportedly called off the deal stating terms of its merger agreement were not met, and has demanded $90 million in termination fees via arbitration. While Zee has initiated its counter-challenge, CEO Punit Goenka is simultaneously exploring legal avenues to challenge the SEBI investigation for suspected siphoning of company funds. To make matters worse, on January 23, the company witnessed a 30 per cent drop in its share price during the early trading hours. Clearly, troubles are mounting for Zee Entertainment, and its future remains ambiguous.    
Despite the recent events, it’s business as usual in the corridors of Zee Studios and Zee5. An industry insider points out that on paper, Zee Studios had a successful 2023. “It enjoyed box-office successes in Gadar 2: The Katha Continues and Mrs Chatterjee vs Norway. Joram, starring Manoj Bajpayee, was critically acclaimed while Karisma Kapoor’s Brown was the only Indian series to be premièred in Berlin. Currently, they might hit pause on fresh films until the company’s future plan is chalked out. But they have two big titles in 2024, Kangana Ranaut’s Emergency and Ajay Devgn’s Maidaan, and work on them is moving in full force,” says the source.

We are told that there have been no interruptions in the functioning of the media house’s OTT platform Zee5. It plans to acquire more series in regional languages this year. Another source says, “The market panic hasn’t penetrated into the company’s day-to-day affairs. The modus operandi at Zee5 has been to focus on subsequent seasons over new series. So, this year, they have the second season of The Broken News, and Taj’s third chapter in development.” 

At a time when Reliance Industries Limited and Walt Disney are working out a merger deal between their respective media assets JioCinema and Disney+ Hotstar, Zee will need a strong plan of action to survive the robust competition. The source indicates that Gautam Adani’s AMG Media Networks is likely to invest in Zee. “After its advent into the news network last year, Adani might back Zee. The media house will start commissioning a fresh slate only after March; by then, they hope to have more clarity.”

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