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Siti, Hathway, among slew of channel applicants awaiting I&B clearance

NEW DELHI: It may be a bit surprising, but two big multi-system operators (MSOs), Siti Cable and Hathway Datacom, are among 32 applicants who have sought government clearance for starting TV channels beaming through a satellite.

According to government data, Siti Cable Network Pvt. Ltd. has sought permission from the information and broadcasting ministry for a channel called Delhi TV. The Rajan Raheja-controlled Hathway, however, had not clarified to the government the name of the proposed channel, and after applying, a government paper states, "the company sought to keep its proposal pending for the time being."

Both the applications were made quite some time back. The ministry received Siti's application in 2002 and the last clarification that the government had sought was in January 2003. As of March 2004, according to the government, no reply had been received from Siti Cable, the cable arm of Subhash Chandra's Zee Telefilms.

Still, it is pertinent to mention here that Hathway Datacom also runs cable networks in various cities under the brand name Win. The latter recently started a premier movie channel on its networks in Delhi, christened Win Movies, which is cable delivered and shows comparatively newer Hindi movies.

The others who had applied for government clearance --- and are yet to receive one --- include Gemini Network Pvt. Ltd., which has expressed its intention to start a channel called Mantra. The government sought transponder lease agreement, project report and source of funding from the applicant that are yet to arrive.

TVC Ltd's proposal to start a TVC channel, vide a letter sent in July 2003, is still under examination by the government. Ditto for Ramesh Sharma's Dilli One channel and, may be, another shopping channel from Seven Star Shopping Network Pvt. Ltd.

A proposal from AV Entertainment Ltd. for starting a channel called See News too has been pending government clearance since 2003. Reason: the company had proposed to uplink through its own teleport, which, according to government data, has not yet been operationalised.

Several of the applications, which had been referred to the ministry of home affairs and department of space earlier this year, are yet to be sent back to the I&B ministry with comments. These include proposals from Lamhas Entertainment Ltd (for Lamhas Classic channel), Total Telefilms Pvt. Ltd (Total TV) and SGA News Ltd's SGA News channel.

There are, of course, some usual suspects too like Zee Sports Ltd that, according to the government, has sought clearance for Alpha News channels in March 2004. It is pertinent to note here that Zee hopes to launch its fifth regional language channel (recent acquisition etc Punjabi not included here) under the Alpha basket, in August. Media reports have said that Zee Telefilms CMD Subhash Chandra was in Hyderabad recently to oversee preparation work ahead of the launch of Alpha Telugu.

Other little known companies evincing interest in starting TV channels, also include Winning Edge Communication Ltd for a channel called Satya, Tamil Entertainment Art Media Ltd for Tamil Thirai, Amrita Enterprises Ltd for Amma TV, On Shanti Channel Pvt. Ltd for On Shanti-the Peace Channel, Orion media Pvt. Ltd for ITN, Wisdom Broadcasting Network Ltd for Wisdom broadcasting Network, Omsons Entertainment TV Network for HTV (no connection with Hindustan Times, though) and Sanskriti Communication Pvt Ltd. for Sanskriti.

All the aforementioned cases are pending government okay and are in various stages of clearances. A senior I&B ministry official said that because of the general elections, the ministry had not been able to concentrate on the proposals.

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