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Geo TV to launch 10 channels, flagship will be entertainment

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MUMBAI: The Dubai-headquartered Geo TV, flagship channel of the Pakistan-based Jang group of media companies, has decided to shift from a single channel entity to being a full fledged network.

On the agenda, is the launch of ten channels dealing in all genres. The ten being general entertainment, news, youth, lifestyle, music, kids, sports, movies, and two regional channels - Sindhi and Punjabi.

Jang Group chief executive and editor-in-chief Mir Shakil Rehman told Indiantelevision.com that he was hoping to bring the network to India as well. The programming will primarily be in Urdu and English. Although, currently that is still in the exploratory process.

The Jang Group has also been granted a DTH licence by the Pakistan government.

The entertainment channel is being planned for the South Asian region where the aim would be essentially to exploit the Indian market. Rehman though expressed his concern over the present regulatory regime in India stating that in the current scenario it would not be commercially viable.

However, a point to note here is that Geo TV is available in quite a few Indian cable homes and at one point the channel was looking at having distribution tie-ups with cable operators and MSOs here.

Geo TV is presently in negotiations with the Rupert Murdoch-controlled BSkyB platform for their infotainment endeavour.

Serious consideration is also being given to the UK market so as to have a footprint in markets where there is sizable Asian diaspora, especially people of Pakistani origin.

In the US, the infotainment channel, which made its debut there last year on the EchoStar platform, beams into approximately 35,000 homes there primarily targeting South Asian viewers. The future target is to reach 50,000 homes.

Pakistan currently has about 15 channels operating. The adex growth rate has been in the twenties for the last three years. From a modest 13 per cent five years ago, the satellite reception mode has grown manifold.

Rehman also pointed out that the attitude towards media in Pakistan is very encouraging. Cross media ownership has been allowed and a lot of major players have started entering this space. The Musharraf government has also to revoke the Pakistan Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) from the Ministry of Information as they come to an understanding that the Ministry's influence does not allow for a level playing field to private players vis a vis the pubcaster.

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