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Asianet News celebrates glorious 25 years of broadcast

Asianet News editor-in-chief MG Radhakrishnan speaks about the channel's journey.

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NEW DELHI: In 1993, journalist Shashi Kumar and his businessman uncle Reji Menon launched Asianet, one of the very first private television channels not just in Kerala but in India as a whole. The arrival of Asianet to the market was warmly welcomed by Keralites, as the channel offered an all-new visual treat to the viewers who were dependent on state-owned Doordarshan offerings that had only a handful of programs airing in Malayalam. On 30 September 1995, Asianet moved a step ahead and aired its first news bulletin at 07.30. 

Glorious 25 years of news broadcasting

The journey of Asianet was not an easy walk, especially in its initial days. During those times, the number of viewers was very limited for a regional language like Malayalam, and the households that had television sets were also very few.

"Right from the beginning, it was an adventurous journey. At that time, when compared to Hindi and Tamil, the market for a Malayalam satellite channel was very small. Hindi and Tamil channels had an international market as well, while our market was very narrow. However, Kerala and Malayalam always have that great tradition of being vibrant towards media outlets. Secondly, the media penetration in Malayalam was the highest, even during the time of print," said Asianet News editor-in-chief MG Radhakrishnan. 

The media veteran also lauded founder Shashi Kumar for trusting the Kerala audience while starting a channel exclusively in Malayalam. 

"The gulf diaspora had also played a crucial role in determining the success of Asianet News. By that time, Kerala's economy was coming out of its long tradition of stagnation. During those times, the per-capita income of Keralites started overtaking the national average; thanks to globalisation and gulf money. All these factors helped Asianet to find a perfect market. Slowly, advertisers also started trusting us, as they understood that there was a section of people who watch our channel. By that time, Kerala's consumption rate also grew. Kerala was a huge consumption market. Kerala was actually treated as one metro by big companies," detailed Radhakrishnan. 

Challenges faced by Asianet

In 2008, Asianet and Asianet News parted as separate companies. Now, Asianet News is based at Housing Board junction, TVM- The Studio and newscasting happens from there, which is taken by an optical fiber link to the uplink facility in Noida, UP. 

In the meantime, several news channels including Manorama News, Mathrubhumi News, Kairali News, and 24 News hit the airwaves. Amid heavy competition from channels and online news portals, Asianet continues to dominate the news industry in Kerala. 

"Asianet always has that early bird advantage. Post-2000, several news channels like Indiavision, Manorama News, and Mathrubhumi News entered the market. It should be also noted that Manorama and Mathrubhumi have a rich tradition of being top leaders in print. Indiavision was the first exclusive news channel. Now, 24 News has also entered the market,” stated Radhakrishnan.

Despite all these challenges, Asianet News has maintained its leadership position, while the second and third are way behind, he remarked. Additionally, the channel’s growth has been augmented by a strong digital presence.

“When it comes to social media, we have a very strong website, and we are one of the top names in the country when it comes to regional websites. As television is the number one news source, our 25 years of experience in the industry is helping us to maintain the top position," added Radhakrishnan. 

The Asianet News editor-in-chief also talked about new technologies which are being widely used in news reporting and news presenting. Staying in step with the changing time, shooting, distribution, and archiving are going to be in HD format soon, he revealed.

"All the major programs including the News Hour are being telecasted from a green studio. But why we became a bit late is because we have a legacy technology which dated back to the 1990s. As most of the other channels started their operations post 2000, they could actually start with greenfield technology. Right from the beginning, they have new technology. But now, we actually are on par when it comes to technology with all other channels," concluded Radhakrishnan. 

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