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Aalami Sahara is now Aalami Samay

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MUMBAI: It was launched three years ago but came to a standstill barely months after coming into existence. However, with an experienced new editor Syed Faisal Ali coming on board fifteen months ago, Aalami Sahara, Sahara Samay’s Urdu news channel, decided to give it shot in the arm.

For starters, the entire network dropped the name ‘Sahara’ from its channels, changing the earlier Aalami Sahara to the new Aalami Samay.

Syed Ali has amitious plans to take the channel to the Middle East and Gulf countries

In a bid to refresh its content and reach out to more Urdu speaking people, six more bureaus in Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Lucknow, Patna and Hyderabad were added to the previous two in Delhi and Srinagar.

The hunt for good journalists fluent in reading and writing Urdu has been on for the past three to four months. “There are not many people who are from an Urdu background and even if they are, they are not happy to work in an Urdu channel,” says Faisal Ali.

As of now, each bureau has one journalist, two camera units and four stringers and the search is on for more journalists.

While most of the channel’s viewership comes from the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Jammu, West Bengal, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Bihar and Assam, Ali plans to take the channel to the Middle East and Gulf countries to get more people hooked on to it.

“A lot of Indians in the Middle East view the channel because there are a lot of NRIs there who have an affinity to India,” claims Ali.

New programmes have been launched on the channel such as Takraan (aired every Sunday at 8: 30 pm) that see Ali conduct interviews with leaders from various fields. Renowned personalities such as Kapil Sibal, Arvind Kejriwal and Gulzar Dehelvi have already appeared on the show. Parvaaz is a weekly travel show while Halaat e Haazra is the daily news bulletin. Another new show called Farsh se Arsh Taq will be aired in November that will showcase ‘rags to riches’ stories of normal people.

The channel also wants to focus on international stories coming from the Middle East, Gulf and America. Aina-e-Aalam is a 15 minute bulletin at 9:00 pm that shows international stories. Aalami Business gives an insight into business opportunities in India as well as the Gulf countries.

The channel is trying to help minority Muslims in India to have a dedicated channel. “We want to brand the channel on the lines of Al Jazeera,” says Ali.

Marketing has already begun in force. About 10 lakh leaflets were distributed in various mosques on Friday as well as during Eid to attract people’s attention. An Urdu media conclave is also on the cards in December for which the Sahara board has approved the proposal by Ali.

In terms of advertisers, it is still to get some big ones on board as only local advertisers are with the channel for now. Ali is however optimistic of getting big names such as Etihad Airways.

It claims to be the only Urdu channel that gives news all through the day while its competitors like Zee Salaam and ETV Urdu provide infotainment. An Urdu channel’s market is smaller than other regional channels. Zee Salaam was launched in 2010 while ETV Urdu was launched much earlier in 2001.

The number of Urdu channels in the country is quite low. Apart from these three there is Munsif TV, a news channel from Hyderabad and DD Urdu which is also infotainment. Remaining Urdu channels are all religious.

With this vibrancy that is trying to make the channel stand out from the rest let’s hope the channel’s second stint is much better.

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