Television

Sahara TV looking to encrypt by May

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No pay no gain. That could well sum up the general sentiment in the industry that in the long run it is only the pay mode that is viable.

Subrata Roy Sahara, managing worker & chairman, Sahara India Pariwar, announced today that Sahara TV would be relaunched in May after a total revamp as a fully encrypted free to air channel. But hinting at a long term plan, Roy said that he saw two revenue streams - advertising and subscription - as the only way a channel could sustain itself in the long term. This appears to indicate that the channel will ultimately become a pay channel.

On the question of whether Sahara would join a bigger platform as a distribution strategy, Roy ruled it out as an option. His argument being that once the bouquet of 38 news channels are launched, the bouquet would be strong enough in itself.

Roy said that there were no plans to uplink from India at this stage and added that Asiasat would continue to be Sahara's satellite partner.

Roy made these comments on the sidelines of a major media briefing in Lucknow announcing the group's plans for a massive expansion in print media. Among the initiatives that Sahara will be undertaking are:

i) A 60-page weekly Hindi news magazine in broadsheet that would have 32 editions spanning the whole Hindi speaking belt.

ii) An English news magazine that will have three editions - Delhi, Mumbai and an all-India one. 

iii) Sahara's Urdu daily, Urdu Rozana will have five new editions published out of Mumbai, Patna, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Kharagpur. 

iv) A weekly Urdu magazine that would be published out of New Delhi as well as an international edition.

On the issue of the entry of foreign media into the print sector, Roy echoed the line the dominant print media houses have been flogging - that it should not be allowed under any circumstances.

Meanwhile, Netaji, Sahara's first foray into the movie business - a project focussing on the life and work of freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose - will be seeing a major expansion in its budget, Roy announced.

Netaji was originally envisaged as a Rs 100 million project, that would comprise a five-hour teleseries besides a three-hour feature film. Roy said the scale on which this movie would be made has considerably expanded but would not go into the actual costing. The film is slated for worldwide theatrical release in January 2003.

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