Adhikaris see early breakeven for Marathi channel, unique space in news

MUMBAI: Markand Adhikari is all set to launch two channels in October. His initial investment: Rs 250 million. "It will be a 50:50 debt equity ratio. We will later scale it up to Rs 500 million in one year's time," he says.



Mi Marathi, the Marathi entertainment channel, will have three hours of original programming in prime time between 8-11 pm and will also run news content. Adhikari has a bank of 3,000 hours of programming which ran on Doordarshan's Marathi channel with popular hits like Damini. This gives him the confidence of breaking even within three to six months of launch.

"For us, the running cost is the bare minimum. We can amortise costs as we will be sharing the common infrastructure which we are creating for the current affairs and news channel. Besides, our brand is already popular among Marathi viewers who have seen our shows on DD Marathi," he says.



The Marathi channels, he estimates, make a business of Rs 750 million a year. "We see a 20 per cent growth, largely fuelled by local advertising," he says.

Mi Marathi will have to contend against three strong regional channnels - Zee Marathi, ETV Marathi and DD's Sahyadiri. But Adhikari believes there is still space for a fourth player, considering the per capita income in the state and the size of the market.

But what about Janmat, which is entering the crowded news channel genre? Adhikari believes the unique positioning of this channel will contribute to its success. "I am not competing against the heavyweights like Aaj Tak, NDTV, Star News and Zee News. I am creating my own space," he says.

Like what he carved out so perfectly for Sab TV, positioning it as a comedy channel. Janmat will be the first interactive and current affairs channel in the country with 70 per cent of prime time shows having a large audience participation component. It will have bands targeted at all the demographics - youth, male, women, and kids, with anchors ranging from stalwarts like Vir Sanghvi to Karan Thapar and Harish Gupta. "We will have glossy sets. The channel will be like a daily magazine on the electronic medium. We have already created three large state-of-the-art studios in the heart of Delhi and two in Mumbai," Adhikari says.

How does Adhikari foresee growth for listed company Sri Adhikari Brothers Television Network Ltd? "It can only grow from now on. In the last quarter ended 30 June 2005, the net profit stood at Rs 10.82 million. We expect to produce more content for channels. We will exceed Rs 150 million worth of content supply to SET India this fiscal," he says. Early this year, Sony Entertainment Television acquired the SAB TV brand, along with 1,305 hours of programming, for Rs 570 million. The deal also assured Sri Adhikari Brothers of content supply worth Rs 750 to SET India over a five-year period.


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