NEW DELHI: At a time when the focus of the industry is on news channels and their uplink from India, a Nepalese-Hindi entertainment channel has quietly prepared the ground for its launch next month. An endeavour of TV personality Nalini Singh, the channel has quietly gone about getting the necessary permissions.
"We have got the permission to uplink from India and are soon set to launch an entertainment channel Nepal One that, I am sure, would become the No. 1 channel for Nepal," Nalini Singh told indiantelevision.com. The venture will be done through her company, TV Live India..
The permission for uplinking from Indian government was sought sometime in November and the permission came through recently without the prying media able to sniff out the information.
Nepal One, primarily targeting the Nepal cable homes and people of Nepalese origin in India, would be beamed via Thaicom 3 satellite and uplinked from Delhi, Singh said.
Nepal One would have a mix of music, entertainment and news and current affairs programming, including Nepalese and Hindi films to attract viewers in Nepal and across the border in India in places like the North-East. As an added sop, the channel would also have some programming in Bhojpouri language that is predominantly spoken in the erstwhile Bihar state, which has now been broken up in three smaller states.
However, Singh was not willing to talk money and avoided questions on the investment being made, though indiantelevision.com learns from reliable industry sources that a Nepalese businessman is putting in money in the venture.
"There are talks in the industry that the Nepal One venture may cost Rs 150 crore (Rs 1.5 billion). There is also the mention of a Rs 500 crore (Rs 5 billion) figure, but I am not telling anything on the investment side," Singh said, adding, however, the "necessary investments" would be made with the effort being to avoid the "razzle dazzle" that is generally associated with satellite channels.
The cable TV market in Nepal is still not as mature as its Indian counterpart, though the Himalayan kingdom does receive 20-odd satellite channels, including Zee TV, Star, CNN, HBO, BBC and private Nepalese satellite channels, apart from the national broadcaster, Nepal TV.
Even as Nepal passes through economic difficulties, there has been a spurt of investment in the newest fad in town, private television channels. Pushed by tens of millions of rupees of investment, three metro channels and three satellite channels, of which one is already running, are preparing to beam their signals to households within the next six months or so. Though the market is small, the half a dozen new entrants and already established NTV will be vying to lure the attention of couch potatoes. Nepalese viewers, particularly the urban ones, whose current staple is the foreign channels, will now have the option of trying homegrown channels. Whether the arrival of domestic private TV channels would force them to stop surfing foreign channels, remains to be seen, wrote a Nepalese magazine recently (Private TV Channels: Watching The Small Screen Grow Up).
Meanwhile, Singh is busy tying up the TV software and private producers in India and Nepal have been sounded out on this. Though, one producer that indiantelevision.com spoke to was a bit sceptical as Singh is not regarded as a good paymaster in the industry and is very tough to please where quality and content is concerned.
But advice and guidance is available within home only for Singh. One of Singh's brothers, Deepak Shourie, has ample experience in media companies having worked with the likes of Living Media, Outlook, Hindustan Times and now as the managing director for Discovery India. Her other brother is Arun Shourie, a powerful minister in the Indian government and, at present, has under his charge the telecom and IT ministry, apart from the disinvestment ministry, and broadcasting infrastructure does fall under the telecom sector.
"I am taking it bite by bite," a cautiously optimistic Singh observes. But there is no denying the fact that India will soon witness another TV production house turn into a broadcaster, a la NDTV.