Sahara on a revamp mode, to launch more news channels

By , agencyfaqs! | In Media Publishing | April 27, 2005
The group is revamping its news business by integrating both its print publications and TV channel operations

Sahara India Pariwar's news business is going through a major transformation. The group, which has interests in para banking, aviation, media & entertainment etc, is looking to integrate both the print and TV arms of the business.

The objective, as indicated by Rajiv Bajaj, vice-president, Sahara Samay, is to bring in greater fluidity in operations. "So far activities of the various news channels as well as print publications have been dispersed. But now the emphasis is on consolidation," he says.

As part of the integration process, a central news pool called the Sahara News Bureau, which is based in Delhi, and headed by senior vice-president DK Pandey, has been formed, from where channels as well as publications of the group can draw content.

"All the stories filed by our network of reporters goes into the central server from where the various channels or publications can pick up what they want," says Bajaj.

The group has also hived off its news operations into various profit centres, beginning with the one in Mumbai, which will be the hub for its South and West activities.

Bajaj, who was formerly the head of Sahara Samay Mumbai, has been put in charge of the South and West regions, with the responsibility of three channels - Sahara Samay Mumbai and the soon-to-be-launched Sahara Samay Gujarat and Sahara Samay South. Besides, two weekly papers Sahara Samay (in Hindi) and Sahara Time (in English), will come under his purview.

This entire drive towards consolidation, incidentally, has been initiated by the new management comprising deputy director Sudhir Kumar and senior VP Ambikanand Sahay at Sahara India Media & Entertainment Limited, which controls the news business in both print and TV.

Both Kumar and Sahay have been with the Sahara group for a long time and moved to the media and entertainment wing a few months ago. Kumar, for the record, is in charge of all media operations, while Sahay looks after content.

The group has plans to launch Mumbai editions of Sahara Samay and Sahara Time, and Roger Alexander and Dhiren Asthana will be heading the projects, informs Bajaj.

On the TV front, Manish Dubey, who handled the film beat at Aaj Tak, has been appointed as the head of Sahara Samay Mumbai. He joined on April 25, and will soon be followed by channel heads for the Gujarati and South news operations. Also reporting in to Bajaj is Sanjay Ramamurthy, who is the chief of bureau in Mumbai.

Instead of Hindi, Sahara Samay Gujarat and Sahara Samay South will be programmed in the Gujarati and English languages respectively. The former will be launched within the next three months, while Sahara Samay South will happen later this year.

Currently, the group is readying itself for the launch of a Hindi news channel exclusively for the Delhi/NCR area. A Hindi news channel in Rajasthan will come up next, followed by Sahara Samay Gujarat and a channel for people in the north-eastern states, which in "all likelihood" will be programmed in Bengali and English. Operations of this channel will be based in Kolkata, and the last to follow will be Sahara Samay South.

The investment on this entire exercise is huge, and the objective, says Bajaj, is to cover the entire country.

Currently, the group has five channels - Sahara Samay Rashtriya, Sahara Samay UP & Uttaranchal, Sahara Samay MP & Chattisgarh, Sahara Samay Bihar & Jharkhand and Sahara Samay Mumbai.

The national channel is undergoing a facelift at the moment in terms of look, feel and content, and the regional channels will follow suit, says Bajaj.

Familiar faces from Aaj Tak and ZEE News can be seen anchoring shows on the national channel, and to top it all, the company has just bagged the award for the 'Best News Room Automation' at the NAB 2005 in Las Vegas, which is an annual convention for broadcasters from around the world. 2005 agencyfaqs!

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