With the aim of strengthening its presence in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (ZEEL), a subsidiary of the Essel group, on Thursday announced the acquisition of UAE’s first and one of the leading radio stations, Hum 106.2 FM. The move marks the foray of the content conglomerate into radio, which until now provided media solutions through television, radio and digital.
“Radio has been an area of interest for ZEE for quite some time and after extensive planning and studying of brand values, ratings and revenue generated by various stations, we felt that an investment in Hum FM was the best option,” says Amit Goenka, CEO–International Broadcast Business, ZEEL.
Started in the 1990s, Hum FM enjoys a 26 percent market share and is the top Hindi radio station in UAE. The station was previously owned by Shamal Media Services and is a part of the Umm Al Quwain Broadcasting Network (UBN). It was among the first Hindi and Urdu language frequencies in UAE and popularised live cricket commentary on radio.
“Zee Entertainment will provide new content and concepts in the world of entertainment and marketing, and will provide the station the required media expertise of a highly effective and competitive value,” says Ali Jasim Ahmed, general manager of Umm Al Quwain Broadcasting Network (UBN), in a press statement.
Interestingly, Zee Entertainment claims to be the first company to launch a Bollywood TV channel, Zee Aflam, in 2008 for the Arab audience as well as introduce them to Hindi programmes dubbed in Arabic with Zee Alwan in 2012. “This investment also shows our commitment to the region and its business landscape,” says Mukund Cairae, CEO–MENA and APAC, ZEEL.
The announcement closely follows ZEE’s entry into film production and distribution with movies like Rustom and Flying Jatt, adds Goenka. More announcements are expected in the coming weeks on the future channel programming and its positioning, the company said in a press statement.