Television

Spiritual channel Aastha to launch in Canada, UK

MUMBAI: India's most prominent spiritual network, Aastha Broadcasting Network Ltd (ABNL), is aggressively reaching out across the world.

After having successfully clinched more than 1,000 customers for Aastha channel on the DirecTV platform in the US, the network is now in the process of signing a deal with BSkyB on the direct-to-home (DTH) platform in the UK and Europe and the Asian Television Network (ATN) platform in Canada.

 

The channel plans to launch in Canada within two weeks while in UK it expects to be available by August. In the UK market Aastha will be priced at ? 9.99, while in Canada on ATN, the largest ethnic platform, the channel will be available for $14.95 (Canadian dollar).

 

 

Speaking exclusively to Indiantelevision.com, ABNL CMD-CEO Kirit Mehta says, "Our aim is to take Aastha to every home across the world. We've got the licenses from the Canadian Radio-Television & Telecommunications Commission in Canada and the Office of Communications (Ofcom) in the UK. In about two weeks time, we'll also be available to the ethnic viewers in Canada and by August we'll also be available in the UK and Europe for the immigrant population."

On the future plans of the company, Mehta revealed that the company is further planning to reach out to viewers in South Africa, Middle East, Australia and New Zealand.

Mehta reveals, "We are in the process of negotiating with DSTV in South Africa, Pehla TV in the Middle East and Vision Asia in Australia and New Zealand."

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. The strategy in terms of programming is also to tap the fastest growing immigrant segments across the globe who are hungry for more ethnic spiritual and wholesome family front programming.

In terms of raising funds for the new ventures, Mehta says, "We'll be on the pay platform across the world. In the initial stages we hope to generate enough revenue from USA, UK, Canada and these funds will be utilised to meet our operational and marketing costs in the other countries. Apart from that, we also hope to raise funds from the market."

The network currently has two channels -- Aastha, which is a spiritual channel with a focus on discourses and live Yoga demonstrations, and Aastha 2, which airs bhajans and kirtans, Gurbani from Nanded with aartis from Vaishnadevi, Shirdi Saibaba and Tirupati Balaji in the pipeline. The international channel Aastha will be a mix of content from both Aastha and Aastha 2 as well as some premium niche programming will be generated from the local markets across the world.

When queried on whether any new channels will be added on, Mehta says, "We plan to launch two more channels in the future. For the southern audiences, it will be a mix of Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam. Then there is another one on Jainism that will be for a specific niche audience."

In India, Aastha broadcasts programming in Hindi, Gujarati and English. This year, the channel has plans to air locally originated programming as well. Currently, both the channels are free to air but over a period of time the company plans to go pay with Aastha 2.

 

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