Competition watchdog CCI will examine the proposed alliance between two leading electronic media conglomerates, Star India and Zee Group, to see whether the deal conforms to the anti-trust norms.
"It is a joint venture between two big groups. We will examine if there are any competition concerns arising out of the deal," a Competition Commission of India (CCI) official told PTI.
In a landmark deal announced today, Star Den Media Services Pvt Ltd and Zee Turner Ltd will form a joint venture to combine distribution of their respective channel bouquets in the country.
Currently, Zee channels are distributed by Zee Turner Ltd, a joint venture company of Zee's parent Essel Group and Turner International, which runs channels like Cartoon Network and Pogo in India. When contacted, ZeeEntertainment Enterprises MD & CEO Punit Goenka said, "The purpose of the JV company is to address some of the anomalies and issues plaguing the distribution industry, and create efficiencies by curbing piracy, introducing transparency, incentivising the process of digitalisation, all of which would result in benefits to all stakeholders in the value chain.
"Further the distribution sector is highly regulated through TRAI both in terms of pricing, packaging and non discriminatory access. We are, therefore, of the view that this will not in any manner impede competition," he added. A Star India spokesperson said, "There is no threat of abuse of dominant position because the broadcasting sector is heavily regulated both in price and delivery of services.
Even otherwise, we would have 68 channels out of about 720 existing channels which is relatively small in number." The Sections 3 and 4 of the Competition Act empowers CCI to look into possible anti-competitive agreements and abuse of dominant market position by companies.
The CCI, according to sources, "will study the combined market share of the two companies, besides ascertaining whether it will affect consumers in anyway. The examination would be done to form a prima facie view on the matter, and if it makes a case, we will probe further". The Media Pro Enterprise India Pvt Ltd will be a 50:50 joint venture between Zee Turner and Star Den Media Services and would jointly aggregate and distribute channels licensed to Zee Turner and Star Den. Zee Turner Ltd is an existing 74:26 joint venture between Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL) and Turner International India Private Limited (TIIPL).