KOLKATA: At a time when sections of both national and regional media are shutting shop or laying off staff as cost-cutting measures, former minister of state for parliamentary affairs in the PV Narsimharao government and senior Congress leader of Assam, Matang Singh, has plans to launch as many as 14 regional channels pan-India.
Singh already owns television channels including NE TV, Focus TV, NE Bangla, NE Hi Fi, Hamar TV, HY TV and Radio Oo la la, and controls them through holding companies like Positiv Television and Positiv Radio.
A highly-placed industry source said, “Singh plans to launch regional television channels in a big way soon.” The source hinted that Naveen Jindal, MP from Kurukshetra, Haryana, and chairman of Jindal Steel and Power, was likely to be part financier on this ambitious project.
While Singh did not respond to repeated queries by this correspondent, a media manager revealed, “Though the existing channels have a huge reach in the north eastern region, they are not doing well.”
Meanwhile, there have been reports that Jindal may also buy a majority stake in Assam’s NE TV, which is one of the north east’s leading channels run by Singh through his family and associates. Indiantelevision.com has also learnt that NE Bangla, the 24x7 Bengali news channel owned by Singh, has appointed Biswa Majumdar as editor-in-chief. Before taking on this assignment, Majumdar was at the helm of the channel’s Kolkata TV operations and affairs. Apparently, the search is on for a big studio for NE Bangla at EM Bypass. A company official on condition of anonymity revealed the venue to be near Science City.
While a cross-section of the media may have been adversely impacted by the ongoing economic slowdown, media analysts predict that the next five to six months will see a spate of news channels mushrooming across the country, what with companies betting big on them thanks to the impending Lok Sabha elections.