Aastha plans to launch in UK

MUMBAI: Aastha Broadcasting Network is planning to launch its international spiritual channel Aastha on the direct-to-home (DTH) platform in the UK market. This follows the channel launch in the US on the DirecTV platform a month back.

The company is in the process of applying for a license. "We have decided that UK will be our next stop. And we will be on the DTH system," says Aastha Broadcasting Network director Hiren Doshi.

Aastha's step into the global market is seen as a drive to generate pay revenues even as there is very little scope for spiritual channels to augment advertising revenues in the Indian market. In the US, the channel is priced at $14.99 a month per subscriber.

The international channel is a mix of content from its two Indian entities - Aastha and Aastha 2. While Aastha is a spiritual channel with focus on discourses and live Yoga demonstrations, Aastha 2 airs Bhajans and Kirtans. Currently, Aastha has its footprints available across 160 countries.

Meanwhile, CMM Broadcasting Network, a listed firm, has been rechristened as Aastha Broadcasting Network Ltd. CMM Music channel closed down operations in mid-2004, replacing it with Aastha 2.

"CMM Music was discontinued because we wanted to be only in the spirituality space. Our single spiritual channel (Aastha) wasn't enough to telecast all our content. In CMM Music, we had a well-distributed frequency. So we decided to replace CMM Music with Aastha 2," says Doshi.

Aastha broadcasts programming in Hindi, Gujarati and English. This year, the channel has plans to air locally originated programming as well.

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