Television

Raj TV begins non-live telecast of news bulletins

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MUMBAI: With election fever gripping Tamil Nadu media, the Chennai-headquartered Raj Television Network (RTN) has started telecasting news bulletins on its flagship channel Raj TV as non-live.

Originally the channel is not permitted to telecast news and live programmes, as it is not uplinked from India.
"Since the last two weeks, Raj TV has been telecasting one-and-a-half hours of news programming -- exactly three half-an-hour news bulletins -- as deferred live, apart from airing various election-oriented current affairs programmes" says one of the RTN promoters M Ravindran.

Raj TV had lost the right to telecast news bulletins and live programmes when the information and broadcasting ministry terminated its teleport licence in November 2004. This was preceded by the ministry stopping broadcast of two new RTN channels Vissa TV and Raj Musix for uplinking without the necessary approval.
Raj TV, along with another RTN channel Raj Digital Plus, were not allowed to uplink from the company's own facility at Chennai as well as from any alternate commercial uplinking centre in India.

RTN had no other choice but to move out of the country and uplink from Bangkok late last year. This arrangement, as already mentioned, prevents RTN from broadcasting live programmes and news. Due to this handicap, Raj TV has already lost out on two big events that were drawing in audiences: the Tsunami of 2004 and the controversy over Kanchi seer Jayendra Saraswathi. Now, it seems, the channel is in no mood let another bonanza -- the upcoming Tamil Nadu assembly elections -- go.

"Since Raj TV is the only neutral channel in the politics-heavyTamil broadcast arena, our news and current affairs programmes used to rule the ratings before we lost the licence. We enjoy a good support from the advertisers and have decided to charge the best rates in the market. And, elections are something you can't afford to skip as a broadcaster," says Ravindran, adding that the channel has been charging advertisers Rs 9,000 per ten seconds for slots in these bulletins.

The RTN promoters are confident that Raj TV will be able to telecast live news bulletins at the earliest. Having won an approval from the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry in 2005 March to uplink its channels from a commercial teleport in India, RTN is presently waiting for the final green signal for the Wireless Protocol Clearance (WPC) from the telecom ministry, which is headed by Dayanidhi Maran, the elder brother of Sun TV supremo Kalanithi Maran.

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