On the day it was launched, RT was available for viewing
only on WWIL, Dish Hits, InCable, 7 Star (cable operators), Big
TV and Sun Direct DTH platforms.
Today, it is also available on InCable Net, Hathway
(cable operators), Dish TV, DD Direct Plus and Airtel DTH.
However, it is highly unlikely that RT is making any
money out of its distribution in the country. In fact it is highly
probably that it is digging deep into its pockets to pay carriage
fees to the cable and DTH operators. "In the case of DD Direct
Plus it could be paying anywhere between Rs 1.5 to Rs 2.5 crore
as carriage fees per year while on private DTH operators it could
go up to Rs 5 crore per annum," says a senior media consultant.
With a tagline that reads 'Question More', who does
RT cater to in India? While the country is home to a sizeable Russian
population - either expats or regular tourists, RT claims it does
not necessarily cater to the Russian diaspora but to 'anybody who
can speak English'.
Nikolov knows that it is RT's content that will pull in the
Indian audience to the channel
What do viewers get to watch on RT? Says RT MD Alexey
Nikolov: "RT covers major international stories and significant
regional developments in politics, society and finance for viewers
of all backgrounds and nationalities."
Regular RT viewers observe that the channel discusses
all major political issues and current affairs, albeit with a Russian
perspective. While the news caters to a global audience, there's
some amount of India-specific content too. Of late, the coverage
has included the Delhi gang rape, India being awarded permanent
observer status in the Arctic Council, defence contracts with Russia,
Indo-China military cooperation and potential expansion of major
foreign multi-brand retailers in India.
More specifically, some of the popular shows on RT
include 'Cross Talk', 'The Kieser Report', 'Breaking the Set', 'The
Big Picture' and 'Larry King Live' hosted by Larry King who switched
from CNN to RT with this show. "What makes RT stand out among
other news channels is that we cover stories that most other media
outlets either ignore or dismiss, or on which, they provide a
one-sided take," exults Nikolov.
As things stand, RT does not have any bureau in India
to cover news from here. While it works with a number of stringers
across the country, when asked, it was unwilling to share the exact
number with indiantelevision.com.
However, in April this year, RT did launch their own
video news agency named Ruptly, which works with various stringers
and videographers across the globe. Earlier on, the channel also
had a dedicated correspondent named Priya Sridhar, who would report
about happenings in India. She has now moved on.
A huge list of hotels show RT on their screens, including
the Taj Mahal, The Leela, Hyatt, Marriot, The Lalit and others.
Hotels are keen to carry international channels because of the diverse
visitors they attract from foreign countries. Although it is available
in HD (high definition), as of now, it is limited to the SD format.
On Airtel DTH (Direct to Home), RT is available a
la carte for Rs 5 while on Big TV, the rate is Rs 20. Sun DTH and
Dish TV air the channel only in packs, along with other English
news channels, while DD Direct Plus is the only channel which offers