Television

Distribution hitches delay Sahara's NCR news channel launch

MUMBAI: This time round Sahara is not taking any chances with a new product. In a bid to have its distribution strategy in place before launch, Sahara India Media & Entertainment's (SIME) proposed NCR channel has been delayed till next month.

The National Capital Region (NCR) channel, which was conceived under the project name D1, has been given a formal name Sahara Samay NCR.

Confirming the development, a company source said, "The launch has been delayed as we are making sure that the channel would be available on tunable, if not prime, band in the NCR."

With increasing number of channels being introduced via cable compounding the problem of low availability of bandwidth, service providers are finding it difficult to have all the channels on the tunable band. In India, prime

band is considered that bandwidth where approximately 12-15 channels could be accessed by a black & white TV set, while those channels that can be accessed by an average TV set, are said to be tunable. At present, over 400 pay and free to air channels could be accessed in India.

Sahara sources also added that distribution head Tapas Roy, an import from Siti Cable, was concentrating on Sahara Rashtriya and Sahara Mumbai as the respective channels had got shifted out of the tunable band and,

hence, was unable to devote full time on the proposed channel.

    

            

      

However, the NCR channel is being test beamed and is available on 28-odd headends in Delhi and the neighbouring areas, even as programming details are being a final shape along with additional broadcast equipment that would be necessary to make the channel really live, interactive and lively.

Explaining that Sahara does not want to take chances with a new channel, unlike the existing ones from the stable that had faced distribution problems resulting in low visibility, the sources added that the company's distribution team too is being beefed up country-wide in the wake of a few exits.

In recent times, there have been several departures from Sahara's distribution team, including Raj Mohan, who used to look after the distribution activities for south and western India region. Mohan has joined as head of distribution for TV Today Network after Amitabh Srivastava upped and shook hands with the little Big Mouse.

SIME is also not averse to follow "certain market norms" relating to placement of channels on cable networks and, company sources admitted, package deals were being worked out with cable operators.

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