Roy set to launch independent English, Hindi news channels?

Prannoy Roy's New Delhi Television appears to have finalised plans for life after Star News. And it is not on the Zee CNN bandwagon that Roy will be pitching his tent.

Industry sources say that on 1 April 2003 (a day after NDTV's content deal with Star ends), Roy will be simultaneously launching two channels - one Hindi and one English.

Roy already has an uplinking licence and has acquired a teleport through which he will uplink the two channels, industry sources say.

As far as distribution is concerned, current indications are that the two channels will be offered independent of any major platform, a la Hindi news channel Aaj Tak and BBC World. This puts paid to speculation in the media that NDTV would be aligned with the Zee AOL Time Warner combine. 

More recent rumours however, have centred around the possibility that Roy might enter into a deal with Sony Entertainment Television. And the last word may yet not have been said on this particular piece of conjecture as there is still a distribution arrangement that NDTV has to put in place. And it would certainly simplify matters for Roy if he has a strong platform to push his channels. Especially considering the fact that preparations are reportedly on in full swing at the India Today Group to launch an English sister channel for leading Hindi news channel Aaj Tak by the year-end.

As far as the news management team is concerned Star News anchors Rajdeep Sardesai, Sonia Verma and Arnab Goswami have been slotted in for key positions, sources say. Sardesai is slated to be managing editor, Verma executive editor and Goswami news editor, the sources aver.

If the reports about the news management team are true, it may well be a move to pre-empt any attempts by rivals to poach key personnel. There looks like being a lot of that in the coming months what with all the news channels that are in various stages of development. 

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