Television

Real estate firm Sahana Group to launch two news channels

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MUMBAI: Sudhakar Shetty-promoted real estate company Sahana Group is set to foray into television broadcast business with two news channels.

The Marathi news channel, Jai Maharashtra, will launch on 1 May, which is also the Maharashtra Day. Sahana News, a Hindi news channel, is planned for launch by the end of the year.

The test signal for Jai Maharashtra will start by first week of April.

The television business is housed under Sahana Films, a subsidiary of Sahana Group. Waahiid Ali Khan, who is the Consultant Editorial Director for Sahana Films, will oversee the operations of the Group's television business.

"We have received licence for two news channels. The Marathi news channel will launch on 1 May while the Hindi one will be available by the year-end," Khan tells Indiantelevision.com.

Undeterred by the presence of channels like Zee 24 Taas, ABP Majha, IBN Lokmat and TV9 Maharashtra, Khan feels that there is still space for a new Marathi news channel.

He is also confident about Sahana News despite the fragmented nature of the Hindi news genre.

    



Mandar Phanse is the editor of Jai Maharashtra while Tulsidas Bhoite and Ravi Ambekar are the executive editors of the channel. The news gathering for the channel has already begun with an active YouTube channel and an online portal, which will also web stream the channel.

The company is in talks with Aidem Ventures to handle ad sales. While Yezdi Sodabottlewala, who was earlier with Sri Adhikari Brothers, will head the distribution of the channel.

The hunt for putting in place the editorial team at Sahana News is also in progress.

The launch of Jai Maharashtra couldn't have come at a better time, feels Khan, as the country is moving towards digitisation with three metros Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata already going digital.

With Mumbai fully digitised, Khan reckons that the carriage cost for the news channel has halved. "The distribution cost of Marathi news channels has become 50 per cent because of digitisation in Mumbai. In the second phase a lot of cities in Maharashtra are going digital," he adds.

A typical Hindi news channel requires a capital expenditure of Rs 700 million to Rs 1 billion while the cost for running a regional news channel is less than half of that, says Khan.

Khan also revealed about the company's ambition to become a national network by launching region-specific channels in future. "Sahana Films has applied to the government for six more licences to launch regional channels," he reveals.

Jai Maharashtra Editor Mandar Phanse said that youth of Maharashtra will remain the focus of the channel. The existing Marathi news channels, he said, mostly cater to 45 plus age group.

The channel also aims to give equal coverage to urban and rural issues besides focusing on youth related issues like jobs and education. Phanse also bemoaned the fact that Marathi news channels focus too much on political issues.

"We want to represent the aspirations of the youth of Maharashtra with our news coverage. Sadly, what we see today on Marathi news channels is too much of political news which although required should be backed by focus on issues that impact common man," avers Phanse.

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