News7 Tamil to be run by an ‘editorial board’


NEW DELHI: Among the plethora of news channels in the country, one more news channel in Tamil is all set to take off, but with a difference – its seven-member editorial board will only have one person who is an employee of the channel.


All the other six editorial members – most of them not based in Tamil Nadu – will be working in an honorary capacity but will really be the decision-makers since the editorial managers are answerable to them. Furthermore, the policy is dictated by an editorial policy which has been drawn up by the editorial board and not by the owners.


Around Rs 60 crore is being invested by VV Group (with Alliance Broadcasting as the licence holders) who own the channel which will be the first mixed-language (English-Tamil) news channel from Tamil Nadu to reach out to the Tamil diaspora all over the world. Rajesh.


News7 Tamil editor and news head Rajesh Sundaram, who is the only paid member of the editorial board, told that the channel is expected to launch on 19 October but had a soft launch on 3 October after a rousing AR Rahman concert in Chennai on 2 October. He also added that the editorial board as a ‘firewall’ between the editorial managers and the management.  


He said the channel will be a free-to-air channel to begin with and any decision to convert it into a pay channel would be taken after seeing the response. Initially, the channel will broadcast in Tamil but may ultimately go on to other languages. As per the list of channels approved by the ministry of information and broadcasting, it has a licence for both English and regional languages.


Referring to a question about marketing, he said the channel had already resorted to aggressive social media strategy and already garnered 20,000 followers on its Facebook page and several thousand followers on the Tamil and English Twitter handles. The website of the channel would be launched later this month.


The editorial focus of the channel would be 'socially responsible journalism' with an emphasis on social empowerment through information. The News7 Tamil editorial board will work independently within an institutionalised mechanism to firewall the channel's editorial content from both external and internal influences.


The board will have complete authority in defining, adding to and amending editorial and news policies, feedback and complaint redressal systems.


The channel is not studio-based and will be shown from different parties and may even be telecast from different cities everyday, said Sundaram. The aim was to get unbiased news stories about Tamilians all over the world.


The board is currently led by a team of globally experienced professionals. The team comprises former Al Jazeera English head of newsgathering Nick Walshe and previously a reporter and editor with ITN of London and the BB), Deccan Chronicle executive editor R Bhagwan Singh and current news head Rajesh Sundaram (former Al Jazeera English India correspondent, TV Today Network input editor, founding editor of News Nation and South Africa's Africa News Network 7).


Two other prominent personalities have agreed to join the board in the last 24 hours. Meena Kandasamy, a well-known poet, novelist and social activist based in London and a strong supporter of the Tamil cause is one of them. Priti Mohan from Chennai is the fifth member. She is a 30-year old lawyer and columnist with a keen interest in culture and music.


A total of seven members will be inducted into the editorial board, each serving for a period of one year extendable by up to one more year. The board will also appoint a chairperson who would also serve for a tenure of one year extendable by another year. The only permanent member of the board would be the news head/editor of the channel.


Sundaram said the challenge would be keeping news neutral and so the channel had three objectives: top quality news gathering, 100 per cent accuracy, and unbiased reporting. Audience surveys had been taken into account to see the kind of news that people liked to watch or the way they wanted to watch these.

The channel will be available on Sun Direct, Airtel DTH, Tata Sky, Videocon DTH, Arasu Cable, SCV  and all major distribution platforms across Tamil Nadu and nationally. The channel will be distributed in all major markets overseas soon after its launch in India.


The channel has also worked out tie-ups in Malayasia and Singapore and is now working for tie-ups in West Asia and Europe.

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