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New Bengali GEC to be launched in October!!
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Kolkata-based ABP Group is all set to roll out its Bengali general entertainment channel in October this year. It is learnt that ABP has called for a creative pitch for the soon-to-be-launched GEC. Three Kolkata-based agencies are said to be in the fray for this account; however, their names could not be ascertained at the time of filing this report.

ABP Group is the owner of popular publications, including Anandabazar Patrika and The Telegraph.

At present, ABP, in partnership with Rupert Murdoch’s STAR Group, owns three brands in the TV news space -- STAR News, STAR Ananda and STAR Majha. All three news channels are part of a 74:26 venture between ABP Group and STAR India in the form of Media Content and Communications Services (MCCS).

However, the new GEC, which will be a 100 per cent ABP-owned venture, is an indication of the Group’s attempt of charting its own way, independent of STAR. In the GEC space, ABP will directly compete with STAR India’s Bengali channel, STAR Jalsha.

Though MCCS is completely independent of STAR India, which operates the three news channels in association with ABP Group; it would be interesting to see how the new development pans out for both STAR and ABP Group, which will see collaborators turning into competitors.

ABP’s entry will take the total number of Bengali GECs in the state to nine. The last player to enter the competitive space was Rupashi Bangla in 2009. It was launched by Rose Valley Group, a business conglomerate with diversified interests in real estate, finance and education.

Prior to Rupashi Bangla’s entry, it was the successful run of relatively new entrant, STAR Jalsha that stirred the Bengali GEC genre. Launched in September 2008, STAR Jalsha, within the first year of its debut, claimed the No. 1 position in the Bengali GEC space, pushing Zee Bangla to No. 2.

As per industry estimates, total advertising spends in the West Bengal market last year were upwards of Rs 250 crore. Of this, GECs claim a share of 75-80 per cent. This year, the marketing spends in West Bengal are pegged to be around Rs 320 crore.

Besides ABP Group’s scheduled launch in October, another media establishment is eyeing a share in the growing West Bengal market. This year will also witness the launch of another Bengali GEC, called Mahuaa Bhojpuri from the stable of Mahuaa Media. Thus, The Bengali GEC market looks to be headed the Hindi GEC way, which also has as many as 10 players.

As per the latest TAM data for the last four weeks (May 30-June 26), STAR Jalsha was the No. 1 GEC, with an average market share of 48 per cent. This was followed by distant No. 2 -- Zee Bangla -- with a market share of 21 per cent; while at No. 3, ETV Bangla had 15 per cent share.

Rupashi Bangla, Aakash Bangla and DD7 Bangla were next in line, with market shares of 7 per cent, 6 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively.

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