Ending all speculation, NDTV has fixed the date of April 14 for the launch of its two channels NDTV India (Hindi) and NDTV 24X7 (English). Sources close to the development say the channel brass believes this will give the NDTV team the much-needed breather to switch from the STAR platform to the NDTV platform. As an observer puts it, "It is not as if the launch is being postponed, as no date of launch was officially announced by NDTV in the first place."
The decision to go live in mid-April has been driven by competitive reasons well. Our source adds, "NDTV knows there will be a of lot clutter in the airwaves over the next few weeks (obvious reference to the launch of STAR News in its new avatar, Aaj Tak's English channel and those from the Sahara India stable). So NDTV decided not to go on air the day after its term with STAR ends. The time gap is deliberate. One the one hand, it will serve to whet the appetite of viewers, and on the other, it will give the technical team enough time to test out the new technology involved. In any case, it is not the easiest thing to do to provide content to one broadcaster till say 12 mid-night and switch to one's own the next minute. This time difference is also to reiterate the fact that NDTV is a new news brand, with the two channels being completely new in their look, feel and production values."
agencyfaqs! readers might also remember our earlier report which stated that the ace production house and soon-to-turn broadcaster has roped in New York-based Lee Hunt Associates, specialists in network branding and marketing, to work on the corporate image of soon-to-be-launched NDTV India and NDTV 24X7. As Hunt told agencyfaqs! in an earlier interview, "The agency's task is to build on the strengths of the NDTV brand and continue with the promise of being first with the most accurate, breaking news." In short, the key differentiator for NDTV will be credibility, adds our source.
Erstwhile partner STAR, on the other hand, is all set to initiate the "seamless transition" of STAR News to the new 24-hour Hindi news channel today. The STAR channel will be uplinked through the Videsh Sanchar Nigam's gateway in Mumbai to an Insat satellite from where it would be downlinked at STAR's Hong Kong headquarters. The final product will be uplinked to Asiasat 3 satellite in a digital format, to be beamed back into India and in its neighbouring areas, where it can be downlinked by MSOs (multi-service operators) and cable operators for redistribution.
The STAR News infrastructure is in place already. The news centre in Mumbai is linked through a fibre optic network to the STAR News super bureau on Parliament Street in Delhi and 19 regional bureaux across India. STAR News' bureau in the capital is equipped to the extent that it can serve as a back-up for the Mumbai centre, and broadcast the channel from Delhi if such an eventuality arises. © 2003 agencyfaqs!