CNBC TV18 Hindi channel to launch before year-end

MUMBAI: "Chopdi Pooja", the first important day of Diwali when prayers are carried out over business related books at shops and offices across the country. Now wouldn't that be an auspicious day to launch CNBC-TV18's Hindi business news channel later this year? This is not to say that CNBC-TV18 CEO Haresh Chawla has revealed to the formal date of the channel's launch. It's just that it fits in well into the timetable set by Chawla on when the channel will start beaming into Hindi-speaking homes --- which is in the last quarter of this calendar year.


B Saikumar, vice-president, sales and marketing, elaborated on why the TV18 brains trust is convinced that the Hindi "service" would be an immediate success. Says Saikumar, "CNBC TV18 is currently servicing two distinct business communities. We have to balance a retail investor's needs with an analyst's needs. Today we are meeting both the needs on one channel."

To do full justice to both ends of the business spectrum two different channels are a necessity and therein lies a great opportunity, is the thinking within TV18.


Viewer generation, distribution, trade education --- three issues that are right on top of CNBC's agenda at the moment. In the lead up to the channel's launch, there are a number of "mass contact" activities that CNBC has lined up, the first of which is India's biggest investor education drive.

Says Saikumar, "We have already done a pilot project in Mumbai at the Hyatt where we charged Rs 500 per head. 1,500 people landed up and we had to refuse over a 1,000

"We're now announcing the next stage in the plan where we will be taking the CNBC investor camps to 26 cities across the country."

There will also be trade related activity around the investor camps, Says Saikumar. A day prior to the camp there would be contact programmes directed at the cable fraternity, Saikumar reveals. The aim of the exercise is to ramp up the distribution of the channel from a presence in 12 to 15 cities currently to 40 to 44 markets by the time the channel is ready for launch.

Elaborating on the programming part of the initiative Saikumar says, "For the investor belt, from a look feel programming strategy point of view it's going to be completely different. We'll spread the net wider and wider. I'll give you a small example: 'We spoke to Sebi who said that today, we've become virtually the single medium for retail investors across the country'. And there are 30 million of them."

"What is it that the small investor wants. Whether it is the best places to buy second hand cars, to what is required to start a small businesses, cash flow requirements, careers, vocational guidance. These are the needs of the investor. Today we are the single medium that has the highest interaction with the retail investor and our influence on the retail investor is as good or as powerful as that on the business community.

"This is where we believe there is more and more potential to build programming that addresses his needs uniquely."

There is an even bigger mass contact plan that CNBC has up its sleeve which involves the launch of a big new show, the details of which will be revealed at a later date.

Queried as to why the new channel could not be timed to coincide with the announcement of the budget which is to be presented in July, Saikumar says there are still some logistical issues that need sorting out. "We are shifting into new premises in end July-August. We have to ensure that the change in broadcast operations of the existing channel is fully integrated and then move in for other plans," he says. There is also an investment of Rs 60 million that is going into the setting up the bureaux, for human resources and outdoor broadcasting vans.

Having set forth the outlines of what the Hindi offspring will look and feel like, what of the mother brand, which will become a 24-hour English channel in tandem with the launch of the Hindi channel?

ENGLISH CHANNEL FOCUS ON INFLUENCE BUILDING, QUALITATIVE PROGRAMMING On this Saikumar offers, "The focus here will be on influence building, qualitative programming, stickiness. It will largely be a quality buy for advertisers. That's the strategy there. We don't want to go mass or retail there."

The changes are already being affected in the CNBC-TV18's evening band, where the idea is that it should become a more and more influential brand.

And shows like the gameshow The Challenge, that launches today, are all part of that effort. Hosted by quizmaster and television personality Derek O' Brien, the quiz show pits management students against experienced corporate managers. Another show aimed at the "elite" is The Lounge, which launches 4 June. The Lounge is a celebrity based show hosted by television star Simone Singh.

Chawla gives his take on what the channel will be like thus: There will be far more analysis and detail than what is there at present. There will be more international news and the channel will have a more management and analysis focus.

And rather than just be about reporting it will also throw light on the latest trends in technology, business, society, says Chawla.

To sum up, the TG of the English channel will be businessmen, financial analysts, management students, and the like.

Quite the complete business package, covering high end to low end, is what the two channels will encompass once they are on air. At least that is what the TV18 brains trust is promising the business community.

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