SABe TV to air in UK from Friday

Add one more to the list of TV channels that are trying to get the attention of viewers belonging to the Indian diaspora across the globe. Sri Adhikari Brothers Television Network (SABTNL)-promoted Hindi entertainment channel SABe TV is all set to start airing in the United Kingdom from Friday, 22 February.

The move marks a major advance in the global ambitions that Markand Adhikari, vice-chairman and managing director, SABe TV, has for his channel. Adhikari said today his company had entered into a joint venture agreement by acquiring a 50 per cent stake in a UK-based channel  MATV Channel 6  the only operator among Asian channels to have secured a restricted service licence (a requirement for terrestrial broadcast).

MATV is a Leicestershire based free-to-air Asian channel that was launched in 1999 as a terrestrial broadcaster. From April 2000, MATV has been broadcasting through cable networks as well. MATV has achieved cash break even so there are no liabilities that SABTNL has to take up as part of this transaction.

Elaborating on the rollout plans that he has set forth, Adhikari said that initially, as a transitionary step, the channel will have both logos (MATV and SABe TV's) displayed on-screen. The channel's coverage will be spread across the entire United Kingdom, Adhikari said, while adding that every day the channel would have a one-hour slot devoted to news and current affairs. The unique feature of this one-hour slot is that local flavour has been brought in by demarcating content that differs from one county to another. Each county will have its own half hour news show with the remaining half hour devoted to happenings in that particular county. This could be in the form of events, interviews, profiles of individuals, all with a local flavour to it, Adhikari said.

Queried as to the kind of money that had gone into the venture, Adhikari said an initial investment of $1 million had been pumped in to acquire the channel. One of the clauses in the deal that works well for Adhikari is that a major chunk of the content on the channel will be sourced through SABTNL. This means a guaranteed revenue source and Adhikari expects to garner revenues of somewhere in the region of 500,000 pounds (Rs 35 million) through providing roughly 2,000 hours of programming a year to the channel.

Adhikari said this was the first major initiative on the part of SABTNL to leverage internationally the programming that it had built up over the years. SABTNL already has joint ventures in Sri Lanka and Indonesia for providing programming but that is small change when compared to what is planned for the UK.

One area where SABe TV UK will differ from its Indian counterpart is that it will be showcasing Hindi films, something that Adhikari has avoided here.

Asked whether there were other international markets he was looking to beyond the UK, Adhikari said the US as well as Australia were possible areas where SABe TV might have a presence at some point.

About MATV:

*Launched on 27th May 1999 through terrestrial broadcast, MATV has started broadcast through cable networks in Leicestershire from 1st April 2000. 

*The channel MATV has already achieved a cash breakeven. 

*Currently MATV reaches about 50,000 homes which accounts for about 200,000 viewers. 

*Joint Venture plans to expand its reach through NTL cable network in nearby counties Nottingham, Derby, Coventry Manchester, Bradford and London city during the current year. 

*The expanded reach will provide for connectivity to around 250,000 to 300,000 households with around a million to 1.25 million viewers. 

*MATV has an alliance with SKY Television for the broadcast of SKY News. 

*MATV broadcasts about 63 hours of new content a week in Hindi and Gujarati language of which about 18 hours of content is produced inhouse.

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