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NEW DELHI: The Rajat Sharma and Ritu Dhawan-promoted India TV would make a formal debut in a 24-hour news channel avatar on 20 May.     


Announcing the launch of the channel at a press conference here today, Sharma said, "We aim to change the way broadcast news reporting is being conducted in the country. India TV will set new benchmarks by maintaining international standards of responsible and credible news reporting. We will stay away from graphic depictions of violence and sensationalism of news. We will uphold the viewer’s right to correct information and their right to truth and verity. India TV is not just a news channel, it is a movement."

Asked by whether India TV would continue to be a stand-alone channel or join a bouquet to increase its distribution muscle, Sharma said that some talks were held with few media organisations but nothing has been finalised.

"If we join some bouquet or some other organisation wants to get associated with us, then that organisation would have to believe in our mission that India TV is," he explained. India TV, in which approximately Rs 700 million has been sunk in, would continue to be a digital free-to-air news channel. Some 1,500 decoder boxes, however, have been distributed in those parts of the country where Hindi is predominantly spoken and understood in areas like Bihar, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, and parts of Maharashtra and Rajasthan.

"We are focusing on the Hindi speaking belt at the moment, but would spread to South India at a later stage," Sharma said.

India TV has also lined up a media blitz encompassing outdoor, radio, TV and print. While the TV campaign on niche channels would start in June, the other three media would be used immediately.

The channel has been on air for the past four weeks with a three-hour Election Special covering the general elections.

Complementing and supporting the channel’s own resources will be people known for their expertise in various facets of television journalism. Also on board will be personalities such as investigative journalist Tarun Tejpal and environment activist Maneka Gandhi.

Speaking on the vision behind India TV, Dhawan was quoted in a press release saying, "We have worked very hard to make India TV a world-class channel with an international feel. Yet, we have ensured that the soul of the channel remains Indian and its programming addresses the issues and interests of the average Indian."

The programming on India TV will incorporate in-depth analysis and minute-to-minute coverage of relevant issues. Twenty-minute news bulletins will be supported by ten-minute analyses of key events, every half hour, added the release.

Some of the major attractions at India TV will include Aaj Ki Baat Rajat Sharma ke Saath, a daily programme blending news reporting and analysis between 9 and 10 pm. Another programme Jeene ki Raah is a daily special bulletin on environment and animal welfare which will be anchored by Maneka Gandhi and a daily bulletin called Aaj Ka Tehelka exposing corruption at all levels by Tejpal. Among the bouquet of programmes will also be Aap Ki Adalat, Sharma’s signature show.

Commenting on her decision to join India TV, Gandhi said, "I joined because I think it is a channel that will tell the truth, and place it in the proper perspective without trivialising it."

Added Tejpal, "I had resisted the allure of joining television till Rajat approached me to be a part of his team at India TV. Realising that the power of the visual medium can heighten the overall effect of an investigative story and leave a lasting impression on the audience, I agreed."

Also notable is the fact that for the first time in India, the network of reporters at India TV will use fibre optic links for video transmission. These fibre optic links will connect 110 stations to the broadcast centre to facilitate real time transmission of news. The newsgathering network will also use mobile satellite vans and suitcase dish antennas for sending video dispatches from remote locations. The free-to-air news channel will be beamed from the PAS 10 satellite.

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