agencyfaqs! News Bureau
NEW DELHI, October 29
The first two Urdu channels of India - Al Hind and Falak - are slated for launch in March 2001. Promoted by big names in politics and business, the industry has reasons to be curious. First being the huge investments lined up for the new channels; and the second, the profile of the promoters.
One of the main promoters of the channels, C M Ibrahim, who's currently a Rajya Sabha MP and is former Information & Broadcasting and Civil Aviation Minister, told a leading newspaper recently that the two channels will be launched with an initial investment of Rs 100 crore. But the two will be positioned for two distinct target audiences. While Al Hind will be a 24-hour news and current affairs channel, Falak will be a 24-hour entertainment channel.
Besides Ibrahim, the other promoters of the proposed channels include Khan Latif Khan, owner of Hyderabad-based Munsif; F Khuraqiwala, owner of Mumbai-based retail chain Akbarally's; Siraj Qureshi, owner of Rs 500-crore Hind Exports; Syed Khalil, director, Khaleej Times; and Manzoor Alam, director and chairman, Indian Institute of Objective Studies. While Arthur Andersen has done a feasibility study for the channels, the US-based TBWA-Anthem has been signed on as the advertising agency for the channels.
As the first two channels take off, there are plans to launch a third one - a business channel in Urdu. This too will be promoted jointly by Falak TV Ltd and Al Hind Ltd, the two companies launching the first two channels.
These companies also plan to tap other niche areas such as music and sports, and, of course, launch a portal subsequently. Santosh Bhartia, CEO of the Urdu channel project, told newsmen in Delhi that all these channels will be launched by April 2002.
Falak TV and Al Hind TV will have 20 per cent equity from a foreign partner and 80 per cent from the Indian promoters. Talks are on with three venture capitalists to raise more money, revealed the channel executives. The foreign equity will come from "a media baron", said Mr Bhartia.
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