Kerala to have Rs 1.5 bn 'Cochin Media City'

MUMBAI: God's own country Kerala seems to be on an overdrive when it comes to media initiatives. The state, which already is home to about 13 television channels, will soon have a group of entrepreneurs entering the virgin space of converged media solutions.

Christened Cochin Media City or CMC, the Rs 1.5 billion project revolves around the basic idea of tapping the immense commercial potential in television and allied services under one roof.

CMC will kick off in the first half of September 2006 with its first project, a media school. According to CMC VP marketing B. Pratap Chandar, the media school project will be followed by a commercial teleport initiative.

"CMC’s media school would focus on media education, advance research in media studies and critical thinking. We want to make it a premium training ground for those aspiring for a career in electronic media, in particular, and the media in general. Our second project, which is a teleport facility, will launch in 2007", says Chandar, while revealing a bunch of media initiatives that CMC aspires to come up with in due course.

What are the initiatives that CMC is looking for? In short, the following:
# Technical consultancy services to electronic media.

# Content Production and management.

# Production and post-production facilities for the entertainment media.

# Television channel and FM radio station.

# Digital cinema project.

# IT-enabled services, which in India is booming.

# Media marketing, research & information services.

# Publishing.

"The basic idea to bring the entire media activity under one umbrella comes from the emergence of various channels in the slow growth visual media market. Today, there is a proliferation of TV channels in the Malayalam TV industry. By the middle of 2007, Kerala will have the unique distinction of having 20 regional (Malayalam) TV channels addressing a population of 33 million Keralites and a TV advertisement market of Rs 2.4 billion (with an expected annual growth rate of 15 to 20 per cent)," adds Chandar.

CMC's board of directors comprises popular Malayalam actor Suresh Gopi, noted film director Shaji Kailas and cinematographer Rajeev Ravi.

The corporate affairs of the company will be managed by a team of professionals lead by former Kerala director-general of police Rajagopalan Nair in the capacity of managing director. Former chairman of Malabar Cements K Ramakrishnan has been roped in as the corporate advisor.

By setting up its base in Kochi, CMC attempts to utilise coastal town's technological advantages.

"The city offers 15 GBPS bandwidth support at India's lowest cost, 'SEA-ME-WE-3' and 'SAFE' submarine cable connectivity and VSNL’s primary international gateway connectivity, plus Reliance, Bharti, VSNL and (government-controlled) BSNL’s fibre optic backbone connectivity,” says Chandar.

Kochi is also rated as the second best IT enabled services destination in Nasscom’s survey, with operational costs less than 50 per cent when compared to other major cities.

The full-fledged project will be based at the Hi-Tech Park of Kinfra at Kalamassery and permission for land has been sought.

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