The print major will also launch Kappa TV, a music channel, on February 1.
From the time it decided to tap into the TV business to the time of implementation, the wait has been long indeed. However, the Mathrubhumi Group is finally ready to mark its foray into the Indian television business with Mathrubhumi News and Kappa TV. While Mathrubhumi News will be launched on January 23, Kappa TV, a music channel, will set foot into the broadcasting space on February 1. Both the channels will be available free-to-air and therefore, will chiefly be driven by advertising revenue.
afaqs! was the first to report on Mathrubhumi's intention to extend into the television space with the two channels in May last year. This is Mathrubhumi's second big step to look at the media business beyond publishing. The 90-year-old print brand expanded its presence into radio with Club FM in 2008.
While Mathrubhumi News will be available only in Malayalam, Kappa TV's content mix will include music across Malayalam, English, Tamil and Hindi.
Headed by Nair, the team for Mathrubhumi Group's television business currently comprises 250-270 members. The ad sales function for both the channels will work under one broadcast banner and will be headed by Philip Jose. Meanwhile, Unni Balakrishnan, former senior coordinating editor for Asianet, has been roped in as chief of news for Mathrubhumi News. Meanwhile, Kappa TV is yet to find a programming head.
While Nair declined to comment on investments, the Mathrubhumi Group is expected to have made an initial investment of Rs 75-80 crore to get the business off the ground. The group currently holds the license for four channels and intends to expand into the GEC business once its first two channels are established.
The Malayalam news market is currently pegged at about Rs 100 crore. Mathrubhumi News will face competition from Indiavision, a Malayalam news channel from Indiavision Satellite Communications; Asianet News from Asianet; People TV from Kairali; Reporter TV from Indo-Asian News channel; and Manorama News, the channel from its arch rival in the print domain, Malayala Manorama. The Malayalam music genre currently has only two serious players in Asianet Plus and Raj Musix Malayalam.
Mathrubhumi Printing & Publishing Co Ltd publishes the daily, Mathrubhumi; and 10 periodicals, namely Mathrubhumi Illustrated Weekly, Grihalakshmi, Chithrabhumi, Sportsmasika, Arogyamasika, Thozhilvartha, Balabhumi, Yathra, Minnamini and Cartoon Plus.