C TV aims to go national, targets metros in first phase

MUMBAI: Cable news and infotainment channel C TV has ambitions to widen its satellite footprint beyond Mumbai.

And the man who will bankroll C TV managing director Sushil Deshpande's efforts to take the channel national is Guru Swarup Srivastava, founder of the Swarup Group of Industries.

The Swarup group has bought a controlling stake in C TV for a reported Rs 100 million which will be used to seed boxes in the main metros initially as well as manage the carriage fee component.

Speaking on the sidelines of an event organised to announce the Swarup Group's entry into the television and print space yesterday, Deshpande said he was talking to several producers for supply of programming.

For Deshpande, there would be nothing better than to have as one of those suppliers India's leading production house Balaji Telefilms. And that might not be such a pipe dream if Balaji promoter Jeetendra Kapoor, who was chief guest at the function, puts his considerable clout behind Swarup. Speaking at the launch event, Jeetendra declared that "Balaji would be there for Swarupji".

The occasion was also used to announce the launch of a Hindi weekly Swaroop Bharat.

Srivastava first came into the media spotlight last year when he signed a deal to buy 125 paintings by superstar artist MF Husain for a whopping Rs 1 billion. He was back in the news earlier this year when the Swaroop Group came forward to sponsor 2005 Filmfare Awards after the Times Group dropped the Manikchand Group as presenting sponsor. This was after the owner of Manikchand Group and "gutka baron" Rasiklal Dhariwal was caught up in controversies due to his alleged links to the underworld.

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