Kerala, one of the smallest states in India, may soon come to hold a record for having the largest number of TV channels per capita. A number of new channels offering entertainment and news are set to the enlarge the existing bouquet around New Year’s time.
Indo-Asian News Channel Private Limited plans to start a news channel, ‘Reporter,’ in the next one year with MV Nikesh Kumar, a news presentor with the India Vision, as managing director. The news channel has opened its registered office at Kochi in October. The channel is expected to be on air well ahead of the next Assembly polls slated for May.
Kerala Kaumudi, a Thiruvananthapuram-based Malayalam daily, is also planning to set up a news channel and had already received the clearances from the ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The channel is expected to be launched next year in tandem with the centenary celebrations of the newspaper, one of the oldest newspaper houses in the state. Mathrubhumi, the second largest circulated daily in Kerala, also has plans to enter into the visual media.
A number of news channels with political links are also in the wings while the major parties CPI(M) and Congress already have their channels. Kairali, the CPI(M)-led telecaster, now has three channels -- Kairali, Kairali People and We. The channel opened an office complex in Thiruvananthapuram recently.
Next in line is the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) which has its strong hold in the northern districts of the state. IUML is also planning a news channel under Channel IBC. A few professionals from other news channels like India Vision have already joined the channel.
Apart from these, leading newspaper publishing houses like Madhyamam are also toying with the idea of venturing into television channel business.
The only publishing company in Kerala with a presence in both print and visual media is the Malayala Manorama group. Being the largest daily in the state, it started with a news channel, Manorama News, and plans to diversify into entertainment segment with a new channel.
It is interesting to note that the new channels are getting ready for take-off when most of the existing channels are struggling for existance. The advertising potential in the state is too small to feed the 30-odd TV channels, according to a space marketing professional.
“There are no big corporate houses in the state. We have a very small advertisement outlay with a few jewellers, textile shops and various state departments and PSUs. So the survival of the newcomers will be a bit difficult,” he said.
There are reports that a news channel is also planned under the leadership of K Muraleedharan, former Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee chief. Some Muslim organisations like Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) led by Abdul Nassar Madani, are also said to be planning new channels to help their campaigns.
The state now has two Christian channels, Shalom and Power Vision. Some Gulf-based NRI businessmen are are also toying with the idea of starting a dedicated business channel in Malayalam. Leading business houses also planning to enter the media business jointly with prominent media professionals of the state.
One positive outcome of the growth in the media industry, particularly the channel boom, is the opportunity for talented youngsters with a taste for TV journalism, production, videography, editing and sound engineering.