Johannesburg, Jul 28 (PTI) Zee TV has launched a new channel in the Amharic language of north-east Africa despite the challenges of the global lockdown caused by the coronavirus epidemic.
Zee Alem, targeted mainly at the Ethiopian market, brings the number of network's channels to eight, broadcasting mainly Bollywood entertainment and serials in different languages across the African continent.
It is the first channel broadcasting novellas, popularly known as soap operas, in Ethiopia and has already found great favour amongst locals as the country's economy improves.
The channel is broadcast on the DSTV platform of South African satellite broadcast giant Multichoice.
Harish Goyal, CEO of Zee Africa and Asia Pacific, said the launch of Zee Alem was 'certainly not easy'.
'We had to overcome the mental block of the lockdown, but we decided that we had to turn the challenge of the Covid-19 pandemic into an opportunity, especially since the decision to launch Zee Alem was taken in 2019 already,' the Singapore-based senior executive told PTI.
'Exploring the opportunities, we found that the artistes required (for dubbing into Amharic) were more easily available during the lockdown. We also found an East African country which had not been so seriously affected by the pandemic and where there was only a night curfew where we could do the work,' added Goyal.
He would not say which country this was, considering this a business advantage.
'We also helped create jobs with locals, supporting about 100 families in the process.
'We have a number of projects currently under way in Africa, which we believe is still a largely untapped continent. We are planning to launch another channel later this year as well,' said Goyal.
Zee first established its presence in South Africa in 1996 with its original Hindi language channel Zee TV, expanding to other countries through its association with DSTV.
Over the last five years, the network has launched various channels in Africa, including its flagship channel Zee World in English.
'Zee World was the first of its kind and has been customised to suit mainstream viewers on the continent,' said Goyal.
'The success of Zee World has increased the demand for Zee shows and made it one of Africa's best loved family entertainment channels,' he added.
Among the most popular series on this channel is the period epic 'Jodha Akbar' with a soundtrack in Zulu, one of the most widely-spoken indigenous languages in South Africa. PTI FH RDS RDS