TV9 to launch five channels

By Sumantha Rathore , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | November 17, 2008
The TV9 Group will launch five new channels, including a Bollywood infotainment channel, to expand its base

The & #BANNER1 & # TV9 bouquet of channels is all set to launch five city specific channels focusing on news and entertainment. TV9 belongs to Associated Broadcasting Co. Pvt. Ltd (ABCL).

The new channels, TV9 Mumbai, TV9 New Delhi, News9, TV9 Chennai and Lehren, will cater to audiences outside South India, where ABCL already has a strong presence.

TV9 Mumbai, a Hindi news channel for the financial capital of the country, and Lehren, a 24 hour Bollywood news channel, are scheduled to go on air in December. News9, a Bengaluru based English news channel, will be launched by the end of this financial year.

TV9 New Delhi, a National Capital Region (NCR) specific channel, and TV9 Chennai are to be launched next year.

In an email interview to afaqs!, MKVN Murthy, vice-president, ABCL, says, "TV9's tagline is, 'Towards Better Society'. We believe in microlevel focus on states so that local issues are addressed and the audience is benefited."

The total investment for all five channels stands at Rs 850 million. They will be headed by Ravi Prakash, chief executive officer, ABCL, who is the brain behind all the TV9 channels.

For TV9 Mumbai, Lehren and News9, which are to go on air soon, the company is looking at a total strength of about 1,200 employees.

All the channels will be free to air, with a target group (TG) spanning the entire population of the demarcated regions. The group has no plans for soft launches of the channels. "We don't believe in pre-launch activities. When we go on air, we make a mark. So far, our experience has been good," asserts Murthy.

ABCL is looking at pan-Indian reach with so many channels in the offing. "This initiative will make ABCL a truly pan-Indian broadcaster, articulating the concerns of people living in major cities in the language most accessible to them," claims Murthy.

Apart from the scheduled launches, the company also plans to expand its base in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Orissa. It also has plans to launch a pan-India channel.

ABCL recently acquired majority stake in Indiavision, a Malayalam channel, and Kolkata TV, which is promoted by the Xenitis Group.

At a time when all broadcasters are focusing on cost cutting, how wise is the decision to launch so many new channels? "We have always operated in a low cost environment, wherein the emphasis is on optimum utilisation of the deployed resources. So, it should not be a problem for us," says Murthy.

ABCL is promoted by iLabs Capital, a $350 million India focused venture capital fund. TV9 has a host of channels under its banner, including TV9 news channels in Telugu, Kannada and Gujarati. ABCL also runs and operates the Telugu spiritual channel, Samskruthi.

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