Sahara TV news channel launch likely in August

The Sahara India Group's ambitious plans to launch a national Hindi news channel, along with a number of independent city-based regional news stations (mainly in the Hindi-speaking belt), is taking longer than initially planned.

According to Sahara TV vice-president (publicity, promotions & PR) Priya Raj, the launch of the news channel will most probably be in August. If the channel does launch then, a likely date to start broadcast could well be 15 August (Independence Day) because of the patriotic linkages.

Queried as to the reasons for the delay (the original plan was for an April kick-off), Priya Raj said there were no specific reasons other than the fact that getting everything in place was taking longer than initially anticipated. Priya Raj added that Sahara was looking at a simultaneous launch of the news channel and the broadsheet weekly newspaper the group was starting.

Priya Raj said there were four key people who would be heading news operations. Arup Ghosh and Shirin, former anchors at Prannoy-Roy's NDTV who left in September 2000 to start their own operation Network One, head the main national channel.

The Mumbai station (includes all stations that may come up in the West) is headed by Rajiv Bajaj, president of the Hinduja Group's IN TV till February 2002. Before IN TV, Bajaj was editor of the now defunct Mumbai-based "Daily" newspaper.

Heading the North Indian regional channels is veteran journalist Prabhat Dabral.

The way the news heads have been positioned, it does appear that the original rollout plan of one main news channel and 37 regional stations, is going to see some modifications.

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