Archive for November, 2007

Politics & Promotion go hand-in-hand in South India

November 27, 2007

In this media driven age, where perception is the only reality; it’s only fitting that the last of the acknowledged Promotion takes precedence over all else. Politicians ranging from Mahatma Gandhi to Sharad Pawar have always invested in the print media; and all major political parties already boast of their own newspapers & magazines as mouthpieces. But now, Television is emerging as the new promotion phenomena amidst these sons-of-the soil in south India.

Take Sun TV for example, it’s the second largest TV network across the country. Started by Kalanidhi Maran, son of the late Union Minister Murasoli Maran and nephew of politician Karunanidhi; Sun TV was till recently, the voice of DMK (before Maran and Karunanidhi had a fallout recently). Even the headquarters of Sun TV are located within the DMK party headquarters in Chennai and the propaganda was done very cleverly. In 2001, when Karunanidhi was arrested at midnight, Sun TV showed visuals of Karunanidhi being roughed up; used wisely during the next elections.

Similarly, Jaya TV (run by Jayalalitha), is the alleged mouthpiece of AIADMK. Not surprising that both have been routinely spitting venom against each other. During the 2006 state assembly elections, if there were live campaigns after 8pm on Sun TV; Jaya TV screened special documentaries depicting Jayalalitha’s achievements. Though Jaya TV could not match Sun, both technically and penetration wise, it put up a tough fight. Now, ever since relations between Maran and Karunanidhi have soured, the DMK is busy flaunting its new mouthpiece ‘Kalaingar TV’.

PMK’s Makkal TV, DMK’s ‘Kalaingar TV’ & the Congress’ Mega TV and Vasanth TV all are gung-ho with political ambitions. The best part is that you can easily reach your target group’s living room; and slowly but steadily mould their thinking via an ostensibly neutral source. And if your channel really clicks, you additionally have a moolah minting machine at your disposal.

Agrees Rajat Sinha, media planner in a leading agency, “If you have a channel of your own, you can leverage a lot of in house synergies and it definitely becomes easy and more effective to promote your products and services.”

If you thought that the trend was limited to Tamil Nadu, think again. Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka are other states where launching television channels, promoted by party supporters is in vogue. In Kerala, ‘Kairali channel’ the mouthpiece of Communist Party of India (Marxist) had so far been the sole channel in this genre; until recently, when Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee launched its ‘Jaihind’. Overwhelmed by the response, the state Congress wing is planning another channel launch in Karnataka soon.

Not to be left behind, Karnataka’s CM, HD Karunaswamy too launched his own channel called ‘Kannada Kasturi’. In Andra Pradesh, the CM’s son, YS Jaganmohan Reddy has launched a Telugu news channel Indira TV. Apart from that there are VTV, Hyderabad TV and Telangana TV launched very recently. The trend has gradually begun to percolate across the rest of the country too. OTV in Orissa, PTC and Channel one in Punjab, and Total TV are a few other channels, backed by various politically aligned promoters.

Chandra to own satellite, ties up with ProtoStar

November 26, 2007
MUMBAI: Subhash Chandra’s satellite project will soon come alive. Agrani Satellite Services Ltd, promoted by Essel Group, has tied up with ProtoStar Ltd. for a satellite that would cost in the region of $200 million (around Rs 8 billion) and boost Dish TV’s capacity to pack in more channels for its direct-to-home (DTH) subscribers.

Kingfisher’s Vijay Mallya on CNN’s Talk Asia

November 25, 2007

MUMBAI: UB Group chairman Vijay Mallya will be seen on air in CNN’s half hour chat show, Talk Asia this weekend.
Mallya is ranked on the Forbes ‘The World’s Billionaires’ list with a net fortune of $1.5 billion. His business interests range from scotch whiskey and beer to commercial aviation and Formula 1 racing.
On this weekend’s Talk Asia, Mallya takes CNN’s Anjali Rao on his private jet before touring his palatial seaside retreat in Goa. India’s ‘King of good times’ discusses how he manages his business portfolio, in addition to giving his view on India’s economic boom and dealing with his high-profile ‘playboy’ image.

Talk Asia is CNN’s half an hour chat show hosted by Rao every weekend to explore the personalities behind the newsmakers in the fields of arts, politics, sports and business as they share their views on issues concerning the Asia Pacific region.

Show schedule:
24 November at 6 pm and 9.30 pm
25 November 25 at 7 pm and 7.30 pm

255 TV channels permitted uplinking in India

November 25, 2007

21 November 2007, 09:24 PM
MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting has allowed 149 news and current affairs TV channels and 106 non-news and current affairs TV channels to uplink from India, as on 15 November, 2007.

Five TV channels, uplinked from abroad, have also been permitted to downlink in India. In addition to this, 52 TV channels, uplinked from abroad, have been provisionally permitted to downlink in India. The permissions are for operation on an all-India basis and are not State-wise.

Out of the total 255 channels permitted to uplink from India, 123 channels have Indian ownership whereas 132 have varying components of foreign equity in the parent company. Out of the total 57 TV channels uplinked from abroad and permitted to downlink in India, 2 TV channels have Indian equity whereas the remaining 55 TV channels have foreign equity.

The Ministry is considering the proposed draft of the Broadcasting Services Regulation Bill. The said Bill is still at drafting stage and is under consultation with States/UTs and other stakeholders. No time frame can be given for finalization of the said Bill as consultation is on-going process

IPTV will struggle to make mark in India

November 25, 2007

MUMBAI: Global IT research and advisory firm Gartner Inc said Internet Protocol television (IPTV) will face a raft of problems that will hold it back for at least five years, foremost being the low base of broadband connections to households in India.

Despite being a more advanced technology capable of additional functionality, IPTV is not well placed in India when compared against other digital broadcast distribution channels such as direct-to-home (DTH) satellite and digital cable. There’s also a large existence of analog cable TV users in India, who pay almost half for cable television when compared to digital subscribers, so have low propensity to shift to IPTV.

Gartner senior research analyst Neha Gupta said, “The primary reason for minimal IPTV uptake is the low broadband penetration in India. Without a mass-market broadband usage in place, the Indian IPTV subscriber base will struggle to exceed one million in the next four years.”

The Indian government has set aggressive targets for increasing broadband coverage, but even with strong growth, the penetration will stay low for the next five years. In 2006, the size of the consumer broadband market in India stood at 1.6 million lines and is expected to grow to 6.4 million by 2011.

“India’s broadband penetration problems are unlikely to be resolved without the use of wireless broadband, either WiMAX or high-speed mobile services such as High-Speed Downlink Packet Access (HSDPA). While they will enable a better Internet surfing experience, we do not consider these as access technologies ready to deliver high-quality IP broadcast video to the TV set in the home,” said Gupta.

Moreover, 2007 is emerging as a critical year for India’s pay TV business, with TRAI mandating the use of conditional access systems in three major cities while kicking off a phased implementation across the country; and more competitors are moving into the fast growing DTH market. Many middle class and wealthier Indians in metropolitan areas are making up their minds now about whether to upgrade to digital cable or take up DTH satellite, resulting in long-term contracts with the service provider. The existing pay TV platforms are tightening their grip on the market and will effectively block IPTV operators from being able to capture its target group of wealthy households.

Secondly, under the pricing regulations imposed on the pay-TV industry, IPTV will effectively be priced at the same level as digital cable and DTH, resulting in ARPUs in the range of Rs 300 – 500, as opposed to analog cable users paying Rs 150 – 300. IPTV therefore will not be able to differentiate itself from digital cable or DTH players in terms of price.

Indian carriers are unconvinced that IPTV offers them much revenue opportunity and, as a result, the leading state-owned carriers have adopted a new style of model that brings in third-party capital and ideas to run the IPTV operations under a franchise style model. While it is the carriers who hold the IPTV license rights and the broadband access infrastructure, the third-party investors buy the equipment, source content and run the IPTV operations in a particular city on behalf of the carrier. In return they get a major share of the revenue.

The franchise style model being adopted by the leading state-owned carriers is positive for the IPTV industry and brings new private sector ideas, rigour and capital into the business. According to Gartner, this model will help speed up the deployment of IPTV in the early years compared with what the carriers might achieve on their own. For the carriers involved, this model gives them a good way to offer triple-play and value-add to their broadband offerings without spending heavily on new equipment and expertise. Though innovative, this is an untried and still risky model; much will ride on the way in which the agreements are structured between carrier and franchisee.

Gupta recommends, “Carriers should consider moving into DTH satellite to help secure customers who can later be converted to IPTV or offered interactive services through a hybrid DTH-IP broadband STB. Alternatively, carriers could partner with DTH operators to offer customers a hybrid STB capable of accessing DTH for channels and using broadband for video on demand (VOD) interactivity. The hybrid model offers an inexpensive route to triple play, while providing extra revenue through cross-selling pay-TV to broadband and voice customers. Such partnerships have collectively added around 1.5 million subscribers in the USA, and we envision a similar success in India.”

OpenTV Announces Deal with Sun Direct TV in India

November 25, 2007

New Indian Direct-to-Home Satellite Pay-TV Network to Launch MPEG-4 Platform Using OpenTV Solutions


OpenTV Corp. , a leading provider of solutions for the delivery of advanced digital television and cross platform interactive services, announced today that Sun Direct TV has selected OpenTV to provide the end-to-end solution and deployment management enabling its digital television services. In addition, OpenTV will provide Sun Direct TV with a collection of applications that includes a new electronic program guide (EPG), interactive cricket, and multi-angle interactive news.

“The Indian market, in which OpenTV gained its first foothold in 2006, represents a tremendous growth opportunity for us and serves to reinforce our strong market position in Asia Pacific and around the world,” said Ben Bennett, OpenTV’s Chief Operating Officer. “We’re extremely gratified to have been selected by Sun Direct TV, a company that likewise strives for leadership and innovation.”

Sun Direct TV will introduce a new Digital Direct-to-Home (DTH) pay TV network in India and expects to use programming from multiple broadcasters to provide a nationwide service with an emphasis on Southern India. Sun Direct TV will use the latest MPEG-4 based technology to increase broadcast capacity. Its selection of OpenTV as provider of its advanced digital television solution confirms OpenTV’s ability to provide next-generation services in fast-growing and emerging markets quickly and efficiently. Sun Direct TV’s launch will be supported by Irdeto’s conditional access solution.

According to an April 2007 report issued by Media Partners Asia Ltd, India is set to become the top pay television market in Asia Pacific by 2015, with pay TV penetration forecast to grow from 61% of television homes in 2006 to 84% in 2011, then to 90% by 2015. According to the report, DTH homes are estimated to reach 38 million by 2015, up from 2.6 million in 2006.

Talks on for Zee, Sun rights for IPTV

November 25, 2007

BSNL, Reliance Communications draw up big plans to cash in on the boom

The IOL deal is expected to trigger IPTV boom for BSNL in Karnataka

IPTV service provides see huge potential

in tier-II cities

BANGALORE: Bharath Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) and Reliance Communications Ltd. are gearing to cater for the needs of Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) subscribers in Karnataka.

BSNL Karnataka will be the nodal circle for signing agreements with all IPTV service providers. BSNL is a key node for broadband protocol in India.

Service provider India Online (IOL) is the franchisee for IPTV. It is negotiating with Zee and Sun TV for securing rights to their bouquet of channels. Once this happens the demand for BSNL IPTV will double in the State — from a monthly enquiry of 600 connections to 1,200 connections, said Chief General Manager of the BSNL Karnataka Circle T.S. Kuppuswamy.

Mr. Kuppuswamy told TV Today that multi-pay channel bouquets would have to come to IPTV which would multiply the business prospects of the franchisee.

Mr. Kuppuswamy said the IPTV provided the advantage of video on demand to the customers. This meant the customer of IPTV had an entire range of services, including basic telephony, internet browsing, television in addition to the video-on-demand. He said the BSNL had to give the customer a dedicated bandwidth only for the video-on-demand. The value added features such as pay channels, tele-education and health consultation would be part of IPTV. The present BSNL network was capable of streaming all these services to the end user and the quality of sound and picture was assured, he said.

Reliance Communications and Microsoft had announced a strategic partnership to deliver IPTV. With Karnataka having the requisite infrastructure in place for IPTV, service providers were now concentrating on Bangalore and tier-II cities such as Mangalore, Mysore, Belgaum, Hubli-Dharwad and Gulburga.

In addition to video-on-demand, Reliance Communications planned to offer digital video recording (DVR), instant channel changing, and personal media sharing. IPTV subscribers would be able to watch popular standard definition (SD) content as well as high definition (HD) content — for the first time in India, said the company. The service would be launched by March 2008.

According to president of Home and Enterprise Business of Reliance Communications Prakash Bajpai, Reliance Communication had kept in readiness the integrated (wireless and wire line) and convergent (voice, data and video) digital network that were capable of supporting services covering over 13,000 towns and 5,00,000 villages.

Reliance Communication owned and operated internet protocol enabled connectivity infrastructure, comprising 1,65,000 km of fibre optic cable systems in India, the U.S., Europe, West Asia and the Asia Pacific region, he said.

Kalaignar ‘fails’ to check Sun’s growth

November 25, 2007

The much-hyped launch of ‘Kalaignar TV’ has failed to check the growth of Sun TV Network in Tamil Nadu. Rather the Sun TV Network claims that its channels have upped their total market share in Tamil Nadu since the launch of ‘Kalaignar TV’ to 60% as against 58% a month ago. According to Sun TV sources, the Sun channels continue to top the 100 programmes in Tamil Nadu with 96 programmes under its fold. Sun TV’s highest rating (TVR) is 22.5+ for its serials while the Kalaignar TV’s highest rating (TVR) is 2.5 for its serials. Kalaignar TV has been able to gain entry into only one of the top 100 programmes. Interestingly, Vijay TV has gained entry into three of the top 100 programmes. Despite increased competition, Sun TV claims that its channels continue to enjoy a dominant position in south India. With a market share of 60% in Tamil Nadu, Sun TV Network enjoys 32% in Andhra Pradesh and 28% in Karnataka. Quoting TAM media report, Sun TV Network said that out of the top 100 programmes in Andhra Pradesh, Gemini TV leads in 73 programmes followed by Maa TV (18 programmes) and Eenadu (11 programmes). In Karnataka, Uadaya TV tops in 61 programmes followed by ETV (38) and TV9 (1). During the quarter, Sun TV Network through its subsidiary South Asia FM Limited entered into a strategic alliance with Red FM to expand its radio broadcasting business in the north, west and east. Commenting on the developments, chairman and managing director Kalanithi Maran, said: “The quarter has been an eventful one as the company experienced entry of new players in its various Markets. The company has been able to strongly withstand all new competition and its channels have not seen any reduction in their market shares.” According to him, the quarter was also characterised by the ‘Twenty20 Cricket World Cup’, which temporarily impacted bookings during the period. However, advertisement bookings have picked up significantly after the World Cup and commencement of the festive seasion in October.

TN Congress launches TV channel

November 19, 2007

CHENNAI: The Congress party has apparently joined the “channel war,” in Tamil Nadu to rival the DMK, AIADMK, PMK and some other parties by launching a Tamil TV channel called “Mega TV”.

A press release by the channel, which will go on air tomorrow, claimed that it is the first ever TV channel launched by the Congress party. It was formally launched yesterday by Congress president Sonia Gandhi at the AICC session in New Delhi.

Though claimed to be a party channel, party sources said it is mainly sponsored by former Union Minister and senior state congress leader K V Thangabalu.

The entertainment-cum-news channel is expected to compete with the newly established Kalaignar TV, started last month by the DMK and Jaya TV of the opposition AIADMK headed by Jayalalithaa.

Tamil Nadu Chief Minister and the ruling DMK supremo M Karunanidhi, in a surprise move, launched the Kalaignar TV (named after the title he carries along with his name) even though Sun TV, owned by former Union Telecommunications Minister Dayanidhi Maran’s family, was widely believed to have the DMK’s support.

The PMK too has its own channel with its founder-leader S Ramadoss promoting “Makkal TV”. The channel has plans to carry a serial on the life of forest brigand Veerappan.

Another political party Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) also enjoys the support of another channel called Tamizhan TV.

CNN-IBN launches the Citizen Journalist Show

November 19, 2007

CNN-IBN launched ‘The Citizen Journalist Show: Be the Change’, the eight-episode series will air on Saturdays at 9.30 pm, with a repeat on Sundays at 5.30 pm. The show is an attempt to celebrate the spirit of civic activism and take user-generated content to a new level.

The series invites citizens of the country to use the show and power of media to fight back, save their cities and raise issues. Viewers are asked to become citizen journalists by either logging onto the CJ micro site,, or sending an SMS to 52622. They can send in text messages, video content or even stills, all of which will be displayed on the show.

An official communiqué stated that CNN-IBN had started a show two years ago whereby it introduced the concept of ‘citizen journalism’. It encouraged people to not simply imbibe news, but become an intrinsic part of the news gathering process. Citizens from across the country had sent in videos, photographs and posted blogs to report on a variety of issues.

“Citizen journalism lies at the heart of CNN-IBN’s raison d’etre of inclusive journalism. It not only engages the viewer in public life and encourages them to be proactive, but also transforms news into an interactive and multilateral process,” said Rajdeep Sardesai, Editor-in-Chief, CNN-IBN and IBN 7.

‘The Citizen Journalist Show: Be the Change’ series will comprise segments like ‘Fight Back’ – fight against any injustice; ‘Civic Activism’ – raising local civic problems; ‘Anti-Corruption Bureau’ – standing up against bribes; ‘Real Heroes’ – nominate someone who has been doing exemplary work against all odds; ‘Green CJ’ – undertaking an effective green initiative; ‘Viewer’s Feedback’ – voicing opinions on CNN-IBN reports;and ‘Bulletin Board’ – issues and grievances troubling viewers along with photos and videos.

The show is also introducing ‘Be The Change’ concept where volunteers helping their community are being empowered with handicams to document their efforts on video.