Malayalam infotainment channel Jai Hind targets April launch

MUMBAI: Jai Hind, the Congress party backed Malayalam infotainment channel, is planning an April launch. The channel is funded by a group of Kerala businessmen under the banner of Bharat Broadcasting Network Limited (BBNL).

According to a source close to the developments, BBNL has made an initial investment of Rs 550 million in the project. The Dubai-based NRI entrepreneur Aniyan Kutty is so far the major stakeholder with an investment of Rs 100 million.

"Jai Hindi will be composed of 60 per cent news content and 40 per cent entertainment and hence we call it an infotainment channel. The uplinking permission is under process and BBNL is planning to launch the channel by mid-April," says the project's chief consultant V Krishna Kumar.

The Kumar-headed production house Symphony Entertainment Private Ltd. has been signed by BBNL for technical, management, programming and logistics assistance.

According to Kumar, the company has already completed top-level appointments. Jai Hind will be headed by former Doordarshan deputy director general K Kunhikrishnan in the capacity of CEO. Senior Mathrubhumi journalist Sunnykutty Abraham has been roped in as COO of the channel. Abraham has been given the additional responsibility of the news division head as well.

Former Indiavision producer Shiny Jacob Benjamin will head the programming division. BBNL is expecting to wind up the remaining appointments by mid-March.

The political climate in Kerala has definitely contributed to the idea, according to sources. "Congress' archrival CPI-M has Kairali TV supporting its ideologies. The party is facing rough weather presently, and what makes matters worse is the fact that the state assembly elections are just two months away. To fight the situation, Congress party leaders initiated a TV channel idea, which the party president Sonia Gandhi approved recently," says a source.

Speaking to indiantelevision.com, Kumar however chose to underplay the involvement of the Congress party in the channel's affairs. "The Congress party won't interfere in the running of the channel. Jai Hindi will keep its own identity. The promoters have given us a free hand and I am encouraged by this fact," states Kumar.

The company has set up its office in capital city Thiruvananthapuram. "Work is in progress for the studios. To start with, we will have our own news studio, while the programming studio will run in hired premises," informs Kumar.

Speaking about the positioning of Jai Hind, Kumar said a final decision hadn't been taken yet. However, he hinted that the 24-hour channel would cover all sub-genres of entertainment including soaps and movies. On the programming front, Jai Hindi will telecast in-house as well as outsourced programmes. "News & current affairs and a few entertainment projects will be produced in-house. The channel has already received proposals from independent producers for various projects," he says.

Incidentally, Kumar is the executive, who anchored the CPI-M backed Kairali TV in its infancy. He played a key role in establishing the channel by introducing various off-beat strategies such as non-soap programming. Kumar floated Symphony Entertainment in 2005, with majority funding from the state government of Kerala.

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