MUMBAI: Two years is when most infants just begin to walk, but this is one baby which has given its older and tougher cousins not just a run for their money, but has also left them far behind. Tamil news channel Puthiya Thalaimurai (PT) TV turned two on 24 August and its management used the occasion to cosmetically change its look.
That’s how leaders behave, and PT TV has bested the likes of Sun News and Jaya News – both with strong political backing. While the second is at the No 2 spot, the latter is at third place.
Let’s take a look at some TAM numbers around PT TV. In the CS 25-30 SEC A & B demographic, it has been ruling the chart for the first 27 weeks of this year with GRPs ranging from 19 to 51. (From week 28 it is calculated in terms of GVTs).
“The competition didn’t take us seriously then,” says NGMC group CEO RBU Shyam Kumar talking about the time when the channel surpassed Sun News’ viewership.
The fresh entrant was launched in 2011 by RP Satyanarayanan, president of New Generation Media Corporation (NGMC) with an investment of approximately Rs 100 crore. Independence Day of that year saw the implementation of a Rs 7 crore marketing campaign with special emphasis on outdoor marketing proclaiming the message ‘Unmai Udanuk Udan’ which means ‘truth as it happens’.
Shyam Kumar believes PT TV will break even by next year
The team of 110 people has grown to 300 with S Srinivasan as the current director of news and M Ramasubramaniam as the executive editor. As compared to others in this space, PT TV says, whose journalists are old and are normally seen wearing chunky gold jewelry and plaits with saris, its anchors and reporters are young and sport snazzy outfits.
With the headquarters located at Chennai and four bureaus in Coimbatore, Tiruchirappalli, Madurai and Delhi, the channel has five OB vans that cover news ‘live’ for the channel which other channels usually report from the studio.
The channel has also focused on getting the Tamil audience tuned to international affairs and has tie-ups with stringers at places having the Tamil diaspora such as Malaysia, Singapore, Dubai and soon there will be one in London. It is available on cable TV, DTH and internet.
A long list of advertisers are on the channel including national ones such as Samsung, Hyundai, Nestle, Euroka forbes, Godrej, Bajaj auto, Intel, Toyota, IT and local favourites like Pothys and Nalli Silk Saris.
“You name it and we have it,” says 4th Dimension Media Solutions CEO B Shankar confidently, that handles the ad sales for PT TV. “Brands have always reached out to us than the other way round,” he adds and also mentioned that the only name he didn’t have was HUL. A 10 second slot on the channel would cost advertisers anywhere between Rs 1500 to Rs 2000 which is set to increase by 30-40 per cent once the ad cap comes into effect on 1 October.
Expectations are that it will break even by next year.
The SRM group was raided by the income tax department a couple of months ago and along with it was PT TV. While reports were that unaccounted income of Rs 6 crore popped up during the raid, Shyam Kumar denies this saying it came out clean as a whistle.
Something that the channel is very proud of is the events that they conduct in the state. ‘Veetuku Oru Vignyani’ (a scientist for every house) was a science competition for school students and two winners will be showcasing their inventions at Malaysia at the Malaysia Science Exhibition. An annual ‘Puthiya Thalaimurai Tamilian Awards’ is organised on the lines of the NDTV’s ‘Indian of the year’ award, that promotes the unsung heroes of Tamil Nadu. ‘Uzhavakku Uyir Uttu Ulavarku Vazhvoottu’ was their their event for providing inspiration and guidance to farmers who were otherwise driven to commit suicide. “These events have made us stand apart,” says Kumar.
The programming mix is claimed to be focused on social awareness and not dependent on popular items such as cinema. The channel has a news and feature programming departments each, which turn over the content daily.
A special feature is that all of PT TV’s show titles are quotes of freedom fighter Bharathiar. Some of its shows include ‘Nerpadu Pesu’- a daily news hour discussion, ‘Agni Paritchai’- a talk show, ‘Roudram Pazhagu’ – a show on social evils and ‘Aayudam Seivom’ – scientific innovations by common man. New programs are in the pipeline such as ‘Saamanyan odu oru naal’ which translates to ‘one day with a common man’.
The channel is soon to launch a GEC with the name of Pudhu Yugam and a national English news channel is also in the pipeline. For now, PT TV seems to have captured the Tamil news market.