afaqs!

Al Jazeera Network may launch Hindi news channel

By Anushree Bhattacharyya , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | November 17, 2011
The network marks its official entry into the country with the launch of its English news channel today.

Qatar-based Al Jazeera Network plans to launch a Hindi news channel in India. The network, which is about to launch its English news channel, Al Jazeera English, plans to launch the Hindi channel, however has not finalised a date yet.

Speaking to afaqs!, Al Anstey, managing director, Al Jazeera English, says, "India is a very important market for us. We are certainly exploring the opportunities and discussing the launch of a Hindi channel to cater to the needs of Indian audiences."

The network also plans to bring some of its international channels to the country in due course of time.

Meanwhile, it is all set to enter the country officially with the launch of its English news channel today. Interestingly, it has tied up with direct-to-home (DTH) service provider Dish TV to reach Indian households.

According to Anstey, the network has taken a different approach by opting for DTH as a route to enter the country. He explains, "We want to be sure that we are available in the important markets and through DTH, we can easily achieve that. At the same time, we are in talks with various cable operators to make sure that our channel reaches cable homes, too. In one year, we intend to make the English news channel available across all DTH platforms and within five years, we would like to have a pan-India presence."

The network received the up-linking and down-linking permission from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting in December, 2010. Currently, it is available on cable in select states such as Kerala, West Bengal, Kashmir and a few parts of North India. Al Jazeera English is a free-to-air news channel.

In terms of content, the network will follow its international strategy, wherein the channel will have 40 per cent local content and 60 per cent international content. Anstey elaborates, "Unlike other international news channels, like CNN that gives the glimpse of the world through the prism of the United States, and BBC that takes a look at the work from an European point of view, we provide international coverage and focus a lot on the developing world, including Asia and Latin American nations such as Spain, Brazil and many more."

The network plans a 360-degree marketing and advertising approach to promote the newly launched English channel. The first phase of the campaign will be launched in the last week of December.

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