Rajat Sharma's India TV to launch with daily 4-hour 'test feed'

NEW DELHI: Smart businessman that he is, TV personality Rajat Sharma has decided to postpone the full-fledged launch of his news and current affairs channel to after the general elections.

One of the main reasons behind deferring launching the news channel, called India TV, at this juncture is that it would just be adding to the clutter. Moreover, a late March or an early April launch would not give enough time to the channel to establish itself properly vis-a-vis others who have had enough time to prepare for election coverage and also cobble together a communication strategy.

The plan therefore is that India TV would be launched with a bang some time in May. Sharma has, however worked out a teaser strategy wherein India TV would get on air from the first week of April with four hours of evening programming, mostly related to elections. This would also help it to test the waters and give the public an initial feel of the actual product that would follow later.

As far as strategies go though, India TV's four-hour band seems to have shades of the current affairs band "Sab View" that is launching on Markand Adhikari's Sab TV from 29 April. Sab View also happens to be a precursor to Adhikari's planned launch of a full-fledged current affairs channel.

Meanwhile, though events like the general elections is natural fodder for a news and current affairs channel and provides an ideal platform to showcase its qualities --- remember how Aaj Tak capitalised on a natural calamity like the earthquake that devastated much of North and western India in 2001 --- India TV management would like to wait till the heat and dust of the general elections have settled down and a new government has been installed in New Delhi.

The India TV team, like the Indian cricket squad, has also got a motivational team theme: "Let's revive the real prestige of Hindi TV journalism".

This mantra has come out of a belief that Hindi TV journalism --- limited success of the likes of the now you see him now you don't Vinod Dua notwithstanding --- has failed to throw up brand equivalents of a Prannoy Roy or a Rajdeep Sardesai. India TV's attempt would be to fill this vacuum and create at least four to five new brands, apart from Sharma.

The business and communication plans, being fine-tuned with the help of Euro RSCG and IPAN, would see Sharma and the top team management interacting with various segments of the industry, be it advertising, journalists or media planners, soon.

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