Tara exits general entertainment; to launch news, music channels

MUMBAI: Rathikant Basu-promoted Broadcast Worldwide is set to launch news and music channels on 21 February as its general entertainment channel Tara Bangla has decided to call it quits.

Tara News will replace Tara Bangla on the distribution space and will be uplinked from its existing VSNL facility. Tara Muzik, on the other hand, will temporarily uplink from Bangkok till it obtains the uplinking permission from the information and broadcasting ministry.

"We were already airing eight hours of news and current affairs programming on Tara Bangla. The experience will help us to launch a 24-hour news channel. There is a wide interest in news and there is no specific channel to cater to this growing audience," says Tara executive vice president and Tara News head Dr. Amit Chakraborty.

The exit of Broadcast Worldwide from the general entertainment space comes in the wake of stiff competition from rival channels like ETV Bangla, Alpha Bangla and Doordarshan's regional channel. Sun Network is also planning to launch Surjo in this segment.

"Soaps have become a costly proposition in the Bangla market. One episode costs us Rs 50,000 on an average. With this money, we can easily produce about five to six episodes of non-fiction progamming," says Chakraborty.

Broadcast Worldwide's decision is also aided by the fact that it had more success with its non-fiction programming. "Our core strength has been non-fiction programming. During the last five years, the channel has got its highest TRPs from non-fiction programmes," says Chakraborty.

Tara News will have hourly news bulletins throughout the day, punctuated by current affairs and other news-based programmes. Each news bulletin will be of thirty minutes duration. The focus will be on live programming with a daily dose of six to seven live current affairs shows. The channel will dish out live reports from the stock market.

The news channel segment in West Bengal is being eyed by major broadcasters. Star and Sahara are finalising their plans to enter the Bangla news market.

Tara Muzik will primarily be a music channel but will also air movies and telefilms. Broadcast Worldwide has acquired 50 movies and has a library of 100 telefilms. "We also have access to 350 movies and are producing eight telefilms a month," says Chakraborty.

The music channel, to be headed by Dr. Chhanda Guha, will also air live music contests and concerts. But this can happen only after the channel obtains clearance to uplink from India.

Tara has three studios in Kolkata, two of which will be utilised for the news channel. Tara will also be formally launching Radio Tara and the Tara Music label on 21 February.

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