NDTV targets 2005 launch, TV18 plumps for December

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: The fight for the business news channel has begun, it seems.

The Raghav Bahl-promoted Television Eighteen Ltd (TV-18) is pressing ahead to meet its deadline for launching a Hindi business news channel in the first half of December, while a similar fare from the NDTV stable is likely to be launched sometime in the first quarter of 2005.

A senior executive of NDTV Ltd. confirmed to that the business news channel “has been delayed till Q1 2005,” while a TV-18 executive indicated that the present effort would be to put the Hindi channel on air “anytime between 1-10 December.”

As things stand today, Zee Business (managed by a newly floated Zee News LTD) is likely to be the first to get off the block on 30 November amongst a slew of new business channels in the pipeline. Zee group news director Laxmi N. Goel had confirmed this launch to earlier this month.

The reason for NDTV further delaying its business news channel is because Dr. Prannoy Roy, whose family promotes the channel’s parent company, doesn’t want to put on air any half-baked stuff. “Dr. Roy wants to make absolutely sure that the details are fine-tuned to the last nut and bolt,” a company executive said.

He added that such precautions are being taken as the ratings for the business programming in the day part on NDTV 24x7 have been good vis-?-vis competition and everybody wants to “live up to the public expectation.”

“If some others in the company had their way, the business channel, yet to be named, would have got launched in 2004 only. But Dr. Roy is insistent that before the channel is put on air for public consumption, all aspects are finalised, including a phased media blitz and sale of ad inventory,” the NDTV executive said.

The New Delhi Television LTD (NDTV) board had approved launch of a separate business news channel in May. The company had made an application to the information and broadcasting ministry for uplinking permission for the same in September and, as per an earlier launch schedule, the new fare was expected to start beaming in 2004.

Information available with indicates that the NDTV business channel's differentiating pitch will be that it covers a far wider canvas than the focus on stock markets that CNBC-TV18 is still perceived as having.

Meanwhile, though a final name for TV-18’s Hindi news channel, which would carry pre-dominantly business news, has not been finalised, one of the options being bandied around in the company is 'Awaaz', Mumbai-based broadcast industry sources said.

Interestingly, TV-18’s Hindi channel, to be beamed via an Insat satellite, is also likely to carry non-business news to broadbase its viewership. According to industry sources, the company has hired even few reporters to be on the crime beat.

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