Kerala to experience its first Malayalam paid channels

By Poojya Trivedi , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | February 26, 2010
As part of Sun Network's plan to make all 20 channels paid, Surya TV and Kiran TV will go on the paid model starting April

Now even in God's own country, viewers will have to pay to watch their favourite channels. As part of its bigger plans, the south India-based television broadcaster, Sun Network has recently announced that two of its free-to-air Malayalam channels will be converted to paid channels.

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Kerala's two most watched Malayalam channels, Surya TV and Kiran TV will go paid from April 01, 2010. While Surya TV is the GEC (general entertainment channel) offering; Kiran TV is the 24-hour music channel from the Sun Network stable.

The two channels, as a bouquet, will be priced at Rs 20.33 per subscriber per month in non-CAS areas; while in CAS areas, the price would be Rs 5.35 per channel per month.

"The two channels have been most viewed channels since our launch in Kerala. Up to 2007, we held the No. 1 position in the state; and in the past couple of years, we have been at the No. 2 position. This is our attempt at regaining the same position," a company's executive tells afaqs!.

Currently, 14-15 per cent of the overall revenue of Sun Network comes from paid channels.

"Initially, some resistance will be there; but at the end of the day, those who want to watch a channel will be willing to pay for it. So, as we go ahead with our plans, we will take the necessary measures," says the executive.

Beginning this year, the company has also hiked the advertisement rates for its Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada channels. The increase in advertisement rates for Surya TV is up to 5 per cent, applicable on select programmes. The broadcaster is eyeing an annual revenue growth of 15-20 per cent with the ad rate hikes.

Sun TV first said that its flagship channels would become pay channels in November 2006. Since then, the broadcaster has been bringing all its channels under the paid model. Currently, of its 20 channels, only about three or four are free-to-air.

Sun TV Network is one of the largest television broadcasters in India, operating 20 satellite television channels across four languages -- Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.