An epic wait for Epic

MUMBAI: What do &Pictures, Star World Premier HD and Romedy Now have in common? The three channels have had a smooth run-up to their recent launch.

However, starting a new channel isn?t an easy task. One has to get approvals from various ministries which can be labeled as the biggest hurdle (at least in some cases), apart from want of money and resources, in premiering a new channel.

A classic case of such a channel which is yet to see the light of day despite everything being ready is Mahesh Samat?s Epic Television, a venture invested in by Mukesh Ambani and Anand Mahindra.  

Epic, which will air content based on the country?s history, folklore, and mythology, albeit in a contemporary format, was slated for a mid-August launch. However, it?s end-September and there?s still no sign of the channel going live.

Apparently, production of the shows is already on floors and various agencies too have been decided, but there?s no clarity even about when the channel will go on test signals. This, despite the hope that Epic would cash in on rising demand for specialty channels, given the increasing speed of digitisation.

So what?s keeping it from going on air? Among the series of approvals to be procured before a new channel can be launched: first comes the foreign ministry, next the home ministry, and most importantly, the I&B ministry. Only when all of them have looked into the nitty-gritties and given their clearance can the newbie go live. Again, clearances may take as little as three months, or as long as three years. In the meanwhile, if a file gets stuck with a ministry for more than six months, it has to go for re-approval.

While we may keep wondering as to which phase of this bureaucratic process, the Epic file is stuck in, according to sources, the channel isn?t alone in its predicament. Nearly 45 to 50 files are stuck with various ministries owing to a variety of issues.

With elections round the corner, one wonders whether these would stand a fighting chance versus the many issues the ruling party may want to deal with first, even if just to guard their turf.

So, we will have to continue playing the waiting game...

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