Television

TV Today's new channel to launch mid-Feb

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NEW DELHI: Even as 24-hour Hindi news channel Aaj Tak completes two years on 31 December 2002, TV Today Network announced today that the new news channel from its stable would be launched sometime mid February 2003 to coincide with its own second anniversary. Though TV Today Network, the India Today Group company which manages the affairs of Aaj Tak, has not specified the language in which the channel would be launched, indiantelevision.com learns from reliable sources in the company that the new channel would be an English-language news and current affairs channel

"We plan to launch another channel. The plans for the same are in the final stages, and the channel is expected to start broadcasting by mid-February 2003, a TV Today statement, quoting company chief executive G Krishnan, said today.

The statement further quoted Krishnan as saying, "We are extremely thankful for the unparalleled support extended to us by our viewers. The last two years have been very fruitful and encouraging, and to take forward the India Today Group legacy of credible, reliable and timely news."

Meanwhile, Subroto Roy's Sahara has also announced plans to launch more than 30 news channels which will be targeted at various regions of the country. The first two: the national news channel and Sahara Samay Uttar (meant for the state of Uttar Pradesh from where the promoters hail) have been slated for launch in February 2003.

TV Today Network's Aaj Tak Hindi news channel has raced to the top using a new idiom of aggressive language to tap the vast Hindi-speaking market (as also attracting a section of the English-speaking audience)to be adjudged and viewed as the country's best news channel.'

However, TV Today Network's job to launch a new news channel will not be that easy even as continuing to protect its No. 1 position via Aaj Tak.

Aaj Tak, for example, has been invaded by media poachers who are taking away talent from the channel. Star anchor Dibang has already departed for NDTV and some others, like Naghma and Prasoon Bajpayee, are likely to follow him there. As per gossip in New Delhi, Naghma is understood to have already quit Aaj Tak.

Some others like news producer Alok Sharma and reporter Prabhat Shungloo have quit to join Star for the revamped Star News, post 31 March 2003. Shungloo, it is understood, has joined Star as the Delhi bureau chief.

But knowing the India Today Group and Krishnan, they would leave no stone unturned to make a success story of the proposed news channel too.

"The ad pie for the news channel market is growing and is expect to reach Rs 500 crore ( Rs 5000 million) in the next two years. Of this, we expect to garner a major share," Krishnan said, adding, "Contrary to popular belief, Aaj Tak's advertising rates are the highest in the industry, but media planners still prefer the channel
because it provides optimum mileage and return on investment."

The TV Today statement also highlighted that fact Aaj Tak leads the number game and presently enjoys 55 per cent market share amongst news channels and a reach of 30 million households, the highest amongst the news channels.

The statement, quoting data, further adds that the "growth of the news channel market was driven by Aaj Tak."

"The company has a number of other ambitious plans to make itself the biggest media conglomerate in the
Asian region. Apart from the scheduled launch of another channel in the Indian market, TVTN also plans to take Aaj Tak into the UK and the USA markets, as well as to make Aaj Tak a pay channel in the Indian sub-continent," the statement said.

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