Archive for August, 2009

Malaysian billionaire T. Ananda Krishnan steps up foray into India media

August 12, 2009

MELBOURNE-educated Malaysian billionaire T. Ananda Krishnan is stepping up his media foray into the Indian market, adding an increased stake in a radio network last week to his existing interests in television and mobile telephony.
Astro targets booming India media

Expansion: Billionaire T. Ananda Krishnan’s Astro All Asia Networks is targeting India media. Picture: Bloomberg
Krishnan’s main listed media and entertainment arm, Astro All Asia Networks, paid just over $20 million on August 4 to lift its stake from 7 per cent to 20 per cent in the Sun FM radio network that runs more than 40 FM radio stations across India.

Sun FM is owned by one of India’s richest men, Chennai-based media tycoon Kalanithi Maran, whose Sun TV Network attracts the biggest audiences in the south with multiple channels in Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam and Kannada languages.

Astro already owns 20 per cent of Maran’s Sun Direct TV, a direct-to-home (DTH) broadcaster that is picking up subscribers rapidly as the DTH distribution model becomes more popular in India.

At Astro’s annual general meeting presentation in Kuala Lumpur last month, chief financial officer Grant Ferguson said Astro aimed to become a “preferred partner” for media companies across Asia. He said the large underdeveloped media and entertainment markets in the region would provide possible opportunities for Astro’s expansion.

Regional radio and television is booming in India’s south, with Rajesh Jain, KPMG’s Mumbai-based head of communications and information for India, telling The Australian recently that regional media is attracting a host of investments from established players and venture capitalists.

Even with the recent downturn in advertising, KPMG estimates that India’s television revenue nationwide will grow from 262.7 billion rupees ($6.6bn) this year to 472.6 billion rupees ($11.85bn) by 2013. The much-smaller radio market will likely grow from 9.2 billion rupees ($230 million) this year to 16.3 billion rupees ($408m) by 2013.

Jain said investors, marketers and advertisers were drawn by the largely untapped consumer market in Indian regional “tier one” cities with populations of one to four million and “tier three” cities with populations of 500,000 to one million.

Ananda Krishnan has long had an interest in India’s south, stemming from his ethnic Tamil background and family origins in Sri Lanka. His grandfather migrated from what was then British-ruled Ceylon to Malaysia to work as a public servant.

Krishnan, who was born in Kuala Lumpur in 1938 and is based there, keeps a low profile and holds no executive positions in the four major Malaysian companies he controls: Astro All Asia Networks, satellite operator Measat Global, mobile phone company Maxis Communications and the diversified power, property and gaming entity Tanjong. His main holding companies are Binariang GSM and Usaha Tegas.

The unlisted Maxis, Malaysia’s largest mobile phone company, is involved in India through its 74 per cent holding in Chennai-based mobile carrier Aircel — a stake bought for $1.4bn in January 2006 and now thought to be worth around $5bn. Aircel, which has 20 million subscribers, is particularly strong in Tamil Nadu state but aims to be a fully fledged national operator by the end of this year.

Krishnan took Maxis private in 2007 to spare minority shareholders the risk associated with overseas expansion, but there has been renewed speculation in Kuala Lumpur this month that he will move to relist Maxis on the Malaysian stock exchange before the year is out. A key shareholder is Saudi Telecom Co, which already has a 25 per cent stake in Maxis.

Ananda Krishnan, who graduated from Melbourne University on a Colombo Plan scholarship and later did his MBA at Harvard University, is regarded as Malaysia’s second richest man, with a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine earlier this year at $US7bn ($8.5bn).

Apart from his media, entertainment and gaming interests in Malaysia and India, he holds a 20 per cent stake in British regional newspaper chain Johnston Press, which produces 18 daily newspapers, 330 weekly titles and their associated websites in the UK and Ireland. He also owns one of Australia’s best known thoroughbred racing studs, Kia Ora, near the Hunter Valley town of Scone.

Sunny Deol slaps legal notice on Big FM

August 6, 2009

Actor Sunny Deol has sent a legal notice to Mumbai radio station Big FM for allegedly making a mockery of him in ‘Son Sunny’, a popular filler on the radio station which is a spoof on Sunny Deol and his father Dharmendra.

The actor has claimed damages of Rs two billion on the station. The show has an artiste who mimics Sunny and Dharmendra, having an imagined conversation and thus entertaining the listeners. It has been on air for over six months now and Sunny has decided to sue the station for the humour capsule which according to him is in ‘bad taste’ and ‘below the belt’. The actor has sent a legal notice to the station on 1 August 2009 asking it to pull the capsule off air.

If adequate steps will not be taken by the station within a week, the actor will file a lawsuit against the station, he said in a media conference held in Mumbai on Tuesday. “The station should not have undertaken such cheap comedy. The show is on air for quite sometime. But since it didn’t go off air I had to take the legal course to put an end to something that insulted me and my family,” said Sunny. “I was busy myself and also I thought it would be pulled off on its own after sometime but since that did not happen for a long time teaching them a lesson became important,” he further added.

The actor’s lawyer Ashok Sarogi said, “We have sent a notice as a preventive action to the station for the cheap publicity that they have resorted to. The notice puts forth liquated damages of Rs two billion.” Big FM officials have declined to comment on the issue.

Mega TV to launch Los Implicados from 17 August

August 6, 2009

Spanish Broadcasting System’s (SBS) Mega TV is set to launch Los Implicados, a late night show, on 17 August.

The show will be telecast from Monday to Friday at 10 pm.

Hosted by Mexican journalist Alfonso ‘Poncho de Anda’, Los Implicados follows an infotainment format combining entertainment and informative news with a focus on top personalities and well known people in the news.

Said Mega TV MD and SBS chief creative officer and EVP Cynthia Hudson Fernandez, “We are confident that Los Implicados will have a long lasting impact on our audience.”

Gyan Vani to add 11 more FM radio stations soon

August 6, 2009

The number of Gyan Vani FM Radio channels set up by the Human Resources Development Ministry and the Indira Gandhi National Open University with the help of Prasar Bharati will go up to 37 shortly, with 11 more channels coming up in Phase-1.

These 37 stations, with a radius of 60 to 70 km, are dedicated FM stations for education and broadcast programmes of interest to students. Some of these are located in places such as Jabalpur, Raipur, Guwahati, Shillong, etc. which have significant remote areas with tribal population in their reach.

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting S Jagathrakshakan told Parliament on Tuesday that as the broadcasts usually reach the villages and areas surrounding the main town in which they are located, they are tailored to cater to the needs of this population in the remote areas.

All India Radio sources said the channels have been established by Prasar Bharati as turnkey solutions to IGNOU. Infrastructure like land, building and tower has also been leased out to Gyan Vani stations.

According to IGNOU Vice-Chancellor V N Rajasekharan Pillai, two channels of IGNOU’s Gyan Darshan – GD 1 and GD 2 – have been put on the Direct To Home (DTH) platform of Doordarshan Direct Plus to ensure greater reach of these educational channels all over the country.

He said this was aimed at reducing the cost on downloading equipment. While the cost of the system on DTH comes to around Rs 2,500 to Rs 3000, the present cost of C-band receive system is about Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000. The maintenance cost will also come down.

“Students can have ‘receive facility’ at home to participate in the live teleconferencing,” he added.

Star Plus gets Farah Khan to host weekend chat show

August 6, 2009

Star Plus is surely betting big on large-format reality shows to captivate existing and newer audiences.

After firming up its weekday lineup with Sach Ka Saamna and now Aap Ki Kachehri – Kiran Ke Saath, the channel is now gearing up to strengthen its weekend primetime with a new celebrity-driven chat show, come August.

Titled Tere Mere Beach Mein, the show will be hosted by Bollywood director Farah Khan.

As per the format, the show will discuss various issues on fears, emotions, relations, happiness and everything a star shares with the common man.

Says a Star Plus spokesperson, “The time slot is yet to be decided but it is a weekend primetime show.”

Production houses to seek legal recourse on DD ban

August 6, 2009

Banned for two years by Doordarshan, a majority of the 13 production houses are seeking legal recourse.

The production houses were banned for submitting blank or repeat tapes under the Short-Term Acquisition Scheme for 2006-07 launched by Doordarshan.
Though none wanted to be named for fear of compromising their position, the heads of these houses told that they were already seeking legal advice. It is learnt that a High Court has stayed the order with regard to one production house.

Some, however, said they had written letters to Doordarshan explaining their position and seeking personal hearing, and would approach the courts only if they did not receive a satisfactory reply. The proprietor of one house alleged conspiracy by some corrupt DD officials.

Parliament was informed late last month that the tapes were submitted to meet the deadline for submission of remaining episodes of the recommended programmes. The ban is effective from April this year.

The companies include BAG Film and Media Ltd, Saif Entertainment, Tirupati Production, Astra Productions, Touchstone Communications, Rainbow Films, Matrix Entertainment, Magick Works, Vaishnu Films, Shrey Media Entertainments, Montage Films, Meghna U-Matic Vision, and Bajaj Animation Kendra.

The pubcaster had invited TV producers to participate in the special scheme in 2007 if they had ready programmes on special subjects. The special topics included 150 years of the First War of Indian independence and shows for family viewing.

This is not the first instance of blank tapes being submitted to Doordarshan. A total of around 250 blank tapes had been submitted in early 2007 for the DD Urdu channel.

Viewers can now call HC judges, courtesy Asianet News

August 6, 2009

Don’t know how to get rid of encroachers upon your land? Don’t worry as top judges in Kerala are now just a phone call away.

Asianet News, the Malayalam news channel from the house of Star Jupiter Entertainment, is airing a weekly show, in which viewers can call Kerala High Court judges, including Chief Justice S. R. Bannurmath, and address their grievances to them.

The show, the first of its kind in India, will be telecast on every Sunday at 7.30 pm, starting August 02, 2009. Callers from around the world can interact with the judges live on the show, which is called Adalat (court of law).

“Callers can ask us any legal question. Well suggest possible solutions,” said Justice Kurian Joseph; while Justice Bannurmath says, “We are thankful (to the channel) for allotting prime time slot to the show.”

The first episode, that was aired last Sunday, was shot on the high court premises in Kochi on Friday. Biju Pankaj, an official of Asianet News, said the channel was ‘flooded’ with calls – mostly from the Gulf countries, which have a huge number of workers from the state – seeking legal remedies.

“On the first day of the recording, we received some 10,000 calls but were able to put through only 100 of them to the judges. The judges had agreed to spare 45 minutes per week for the show. But the shoot went on for over two hours and still many calls couldn’t be attended.” Pankaj adds.

The channel chose Friday as the day of recording because it is a public holiday in the Gulf, where more than a dozen Malayalam channels are engaged in a fierce battle for supremacy.

Many of the callers from the Gulf said they had trouble protecting their property in India from encroachers because they couldn’t stay back and file a case that was likely to go on for years. Taking note of this, the judges said they’ll pressure authorities for fast- track courts to deal with such cases.

The channel expects the programme to become a huge hit. Sponsors are already queuing up, having realised the shows commercial potential.

Kalaignar Network to launch new channels, new shows

August 6, 2009

The coming months will see DMK backed Kalaignar TV Network adding two more channels – Kalaignar Asia and Chithram; to its existing bouquet of four channels – Kalaignar TV (entertainment channel), Isai Aruvi (music channel), Seithigal (news channel) and Sirrippoli (comedy channel).

Kalaignar Asia will cater to the entertainment demands of the Tamil people in Southeast Asian countries. The channel will be broadcast through THAICOM-5 satellite and will be operated from the Kalaignar TV premises in Chennai. The 24 hour entertainment channel will focus on daily soaps and films for entertainment.

Kids channel Chithram, which will compete with Sun TV Network’s kids channel Chutti TV, would go on air before the end of this year. The Network has already obtained the license for the kids’ channel.

The coming weeks will also mark the launch of four new shows on Kalaignar TV, the Tamil GEC. The shows scheduled to go on air in August are Karuthu Yutham, Poova? Thalaya?, Aval Oru Minsaram and Idhu Rose Neram.

Karuthu Yutham is an hour long offering in the format of a debate. The first episode will be aired on August 2 at 1:30 pm and will see participants debating the emerging nightlife culture in Tamil Nadu, with both men and women frequenting night clubs.

Tamil celebrity artists Kushboo and Sripriya will play host in the weekly talk show, titled Poova? Thalaya? (meaning head or tail). The two Tamil movie actors will lock horns on various welfare issues concerning women. They will represent two diverse views on any given topic.

The daily soap, Aval Oru Minsaram, will be aired from Monday to Thursday and has been slotted at 9:30 pm.

Saturdays will see a new programme, titled Idhu Rose Neram, which is being produced and anchored by a transgender, Rose, who holds a PhD in psychology. The show will see her raise topics of relevance for women.