Star adds Marathi news channel, eyes more

MUMBAI: Media Content and Communications Services (MCCS), the joint venture between Star and ABP Group, has decided to roll out a slew of regional news channels ahead of an English news channel launch.

The company is launching the Marathi-language news channel, Star Majha (My Star), on 22 June. MCCS already operates Star News and Star Ananda in Hindi and Bengali.

"We are going to launch more news channels in the regional space as they are mass-based. We, however, haven't yet firmed up our plans on the markets we are going to launch next," says MCCS vice president Barun Das.

Star Majha's tag line is 'Open your eyes, Look closely'. There will also be an official website for the channel,

The news channel will initially be free to air (FTA). With 17 bureaus spread all over Maharasthra, Star Majha will leverage the strengths of Star News for national content and the Fox and Sky network for international news.

The youngest sibling in the bouquet will stay with the image of being a "people's" channel. It will focus on issues and not just events with the core target audience in the age group between 22-35 years.

The channel will have a "Maharashtra-centric" approach and highlight the "modern and new outlook of every Marathi." It will cover a variety of shows on politics, sports, entertainment, culture, education, career, real estate, religion, yoga, astrology and lifestyle.

Commenting on the requirement of another news channel in the already cluttered market, Das has this to offer. "Hindi news channel viewership has doubled over last year, which clearly indicates that there is huge appetite for news. It does not create fatigue unlike the general entertainment channels. The definition of news is also changing. Anything that is relevant and contemporary is news and even news shows on saas-bahu serials in the afternoon slot is almost like a prime time band." 

Says Star India CEO Uday Shankar, "Maharashtra is at the forefront of reshaping the Indian society and economy and Star Majha is a new age channel for the new age Maharashtrian. Given the pattern of growing demand the launch of a specialized Marathi news channel of this nature is a natural requirement for the region."

The Marathi news space is going to see a flood of launches including TV 18 Group which has signed a joint venture with Lokmat Group, and Hyderabad-based TV9. Early this year, Zee launched 24 Tas.

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