Ananda Bazar Patrika-controlled STAR News is set to launch a Bengali news channel in February 2005. The channel, in all likeliness, will not be called STAR Khabar. It will be the first 24-hour national news channel in Bengali. The development has been confirmed by senior executives at the ABP group.
The channel will be 'national' both in terms of programming and distribution. "The programming will cover Buddha to Bush," quipped a senior executive, implying that the channel will simultaneously focus on West Bengal's chief minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee's (along with local events) and international issues including US President George W Bush.
Going glocal (global + local) seems to be the upcoming channel's top priority. This is likely to be a serious differentiator for the channel as other Bengali news channels mainly focus on regional news, except for a few major national developments.
A senior ABP executive said, "We will have the advantage of being a 24X7 channel, while the present Bengali television news services are part of entertainment channels, be it Eenadu, Alpha Bangla, or DD7. They only have a limited time for news broadcasting."
The channel is also planning a strong nationwide distribution network as it plans to cater to the the huge Bengali population residing outside West Bengal. There are plans to telecast abroad too.
Media Content & Communication Services (India) Pvt. Ltd (MCCS) - the joint venture company of STAR India and ABP group that broadcasts STAR News - has already applied for the government's approval for launching the channel a few months back. The executives are hopeful to get the approval in the next few weeks.
The new channel will be headed by Suman Chattopadhyay, an ABP veteran. At present, Chattopadhyay is the executive editor of the Bengali daily, Ananda Bazar Patrika. Uday Shankar, CEO and director, STAR News, will be also responsible for the channel.
ABP's expertise in print journalism and the knowledge of the region will be leveraged in this project. This means that some of the ABP journalist may now shift to the television venture.
ABP and STAR will be officially announcing the launch at Kolkata tomorrow.
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