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Punjab Today promoters to launch more channels

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NEW DELHI: STV Enterprises Ltd, managers of Punjab Today, a predominantly Punjabi language satellite channel, has drawn up big plans to launch some more channels during this financial year, including a Kashmiri news channel.

Speaking to indiantelevision.com, STV Enterprises chairman-cum- managing director JK Jain (not to be confused with Dr JK Jain of Jain Studios) said: "We do have plans to launch more channels this year. The first off the block will be Balle Balle, a music channel, which is slated to go on air later this month."

According to Jain, "We have realised that there is money to be made through small advertisers on regional language Indian channels and that is why we have charted a path to make forays into this area."

Pointing out that Punjab Today, launched in January earlier this year, has "already broken even", Jain said that in the pipeline are J&K Today (a predominantly Kashmiri language channel) and Haryana Today.

Upinder Nayar, the chief executive of the up and coming Balle Balle channel feels that the experience of Punjab Today has shown that there is a market for such channels even in states like Maharashtra and Goa where Punjab Today is available as a digital free-to-air channel.

Nayar, the youthful and exuberant CEO heads the overall operations of Balle Balle and Punjab Today and has been associated with a number of big media events. "In the coming months, I want that Punjab Today and Balle Balle become a household name," he said.

Balle Balle, to be beamed through Thaicom-3 satellite, will have 60-70 per cent Punjabi language music videos, while the rest will comprise Hindi music videos and programmes.

Explaining the rationale behind small but efficiently managed regional language channels, Jain feels that the Indian rural market is huge and no advertiser can ignore it. "If we offer them a package targeting niche and focussed audience they'll come on board," he added.

Sounds strange? Jain throws up some facts: big time ad spenders like Samsung, Emami, Coca-Cola and even Hindustan Lever all advertise on Punjab Today to target the rural market. "If you can offer a focussed and niche market to advertisers, they'll come on board, Jain explains.

He also said that talks are on with foreign cable companies to take the existing and future channels to the UK and Canada to tap the huge ethnic market there and the presence of Zee, Sony and even Star Plus doesn't deter Jain.

STV Enterprises started off as a video post-production house in Delhi and now has facilities in the Capital as well as in Mumbai where Jain claims that his company manages Asia's first digital special effects film and video studio.

Punjab Today, a 24 hour news channel, is an attempt to bring Punjabis across India and those settled abroad closer by bringing them news and events occurring in their home state in their mother tongue.

Launched in January 2002, Punjab Today is the only regional channel to achieve nearly 100 per cent penetration in urban as well as rural areas across Punjab, Haryana, J&K, and Himachal Pradesh right down to the smallest tehsils and towns, Jain says.

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