Telugu tackled; TV9 keen on Kannada news channel next

MUMBAI: Newly launched Telugu news channel TV9 is now eyeing the Kannada space as well.

For the news hungry Andhra Pradesh populace, TV9 is currently jostling for attention along with ETV2 from the Ramoji Rao family and DD 8 from pubcaster Doordarshan. Launched formally on 1 February 2004, the i-Labs backed Associate Broadcasting venture, TV9 with its news heavy content is spoiling for a share of the election related advertising that has already got underway.

The free to air digital channel which had a 15 day trial run before the formal launch, offers hourly bulletins, apart from regular headline bullets, runs weekend shows and features a daily hour long discusssion programme at 10 pm. A half hour weekly crime file bulletin and a open house discussion with a prominent perosnality, a la the Rajat Sharma anchored Aap Ki Adalat, currently fill the programming. On the cards are more talk shows, including a live show, once the second phase of programming rolls out from 15 March, says founder CEO Ravi Prakash. The channel's USP is a daily, Megha, a show aided by hidden cameras, where TV9's reporters tempt a corrupt official or local politician into bribery and record the incident.

TV9 has been planned with an urban orientation, focusing on the major metros and towns of Andhra Pradesh, and will have shows detailing the night life in these places, targeting the younger 18 to 35 age group, says Prakash. Viewers these days, says Prakash, are becoming tired of family drama shows and TV9 intends to plug the gap by 'entertaining through news'. This is the reason that TV9 is also studying the Kannada scenario, but not for an entertainment channel but for a news channel.

With a staff of 125 correspondents fanned out across the country, two OB vans (and more to come for the elections) and a tie up with iVision news agency, TV9 uplinks from an earth station in Banjara Hills, the only earth station inside Hyderabad, claims Prakash.

TV9 attempts a different take even on ordinary news bulletins, by including localised business news and weather forecasts.

As the latest entrant on the scene, TV9 has some stiff competition from existing players. Teja, from the Sun stable, has increased its news related shows, including current affairs programmes and talk shows. Vissa TV, promoted by Chennai based Raj TV has also strengthened its position with four news bulletins a day. While Maa TV, another Telugu channel, has also increased the number of news bulletins on air.

Sources say the spot buy rates for Telugu news channels are also on the upswing, with big players like Gemini TV asking for Rs 17,000 per 10-second spot at prime time. The rest of the players reportedly do not rake in as much, but with elections just round the corner, Telugu news channels are getting ready to rake in the hay while India shines.

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