Manorama News unveiled; 'varied content' USP

MUMBAI: Print major Malayala Manorama Group has launched its maiden television broadcast venture Manorama News, a 24-hour free-to-air news channel. The channel hit the airwaves with a news bulletin at 12 noon on 17 August and the day also marked the beginning of the Onam month for Keralites.

Manorama News attempts to make a mark in the highly contested Malayalam (Kerala) television market with its USP of 'varied content'. "Our strategy is to offer varied content than just news. We have lined up a complete set of different news formats targeted at different viewer segments," MM TV -- the broadcast arm of Malayala Manorama -- COO Anil George told

MM News has divided the state into three regions -- South (Thiruvananthapuram), Central (Kochi) and North of Kerala (Kozhikode) -- to enable itself to dish out local news in a better way. The channel telecasts three different beams of six local news bulletins every day catering to the regions on an exclusive basis. Except these six local news bulletins, the rest of the channel programming is uniform for the entire state.

Apart from the three key local points of Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode, MM News has set up its studios in Delhi and Mumbai.

MM News offers a package of half-an-hour news bulletins, making it a total of 12 news bulletins per day. The channel airs extended news programmes early morning and in the night. The morning news show Pularvela, slotted for 7 am to - 8:30 am - functions as a platform to provide and discuss all the early news stories coming in. Manorama News Hour, from 9 pm to 10 pm, will provide an in-depth analysis of the day's news with the updates.

MM News targets the viewer segment which vies for lighter stuff with a 7 pm show Sakalakala. The crime news genre has been taken care of with Kutapathram at 10 pm. the 'business class' is targeted with business news bulletins twice in a day, at 5 pm and 11 pm. Vanita, a female-oriented show, has an afternoon slot at 2:30 pm. The channel has also lined up a celebrity interview series to mark the beginning.

MM News' interactive prime time chat show Ningal Parayoo explores the channel's online space and the mobile short code 7333. According to George, MM News will change its short code to 6776 as the group is planning to acquire a uniform mobile interactive identity.

"For the time being, we will be using the short code 7333 for Manorama News. But soon, the entire Manorama group will come under the short code 6776," says George.

Speaking on the initiatives made on the distribution front, George says the channel has a 100 per cent presence in Kerala and Delhi, while plans for the other key centres are on the anvil.

"We are working on the distribution front and we will be soon hoping on the Direct to Home (DTH) platform as well. At present, we are not available in the Gulf region. However, talks are on and we would be making it to the Gulf very soon," he says.

When queried on the channel's strategy to make a first impression in the market, George said even entertainment channels had been considered as competitors. "It is not that, we are fighting with the existing news channels of the space. We consider even entertainment channels as out competitors. MM News is launching a number of innovative formats and the plan is to bring in viewers from the other viewing genres also. The national scenario, where news channels are really improving their viewer-base with various innovative strategies, has been really inspiring."

Speaking on the immediate target, George said the plan was to let the content bring in viewers and then advertisers. "Our focus is on building a brand in the interest of consumers by offering them the right content. In the next six months, the plan is to win the mindshare and we are sure that the revenue share will follow."

MM News follows a two-pronged marketing strategy to create a buzz in the market, according to George. "Our immediate goal is to provide a different experience of news broadcasting to the viewer. The strategy is to let the content bring in the viewer. Then, we will have a consistent advertising campaign series across different media wings of Manorama to promote the channel," he says.

When queried on MM TV's next television venture, George said the company is presently looking at a couple of genres. "We have a long term strategy of getting into other ventures. A couple of formats have been thought of, but no time frame has been set yet."

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