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Star gets MIB nod to launch regional sports channels
MUMBAI: The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB) has granted uplinking licences to Star India, thus paving the way for the broadcast major to expand its sports portfolio by launching regional sports channels in Marathi, Bengali, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.
The ministry has awarded 10 new licences to the broadcaster to launch Star Sports Marathi, Star Sports Bengali, Star Sports Malayalam, Star Sports Tamil, and Star Sports Telugu in standard definition (SD) as well as high definition (HD).
If all goes as per plan, the broadcaster will effectively have 18 sports channels. Currently, it has eight sports channels including four SD and four HD channels. Star was the first Indian broadcaster to launch a Hindi sports channel in SD and HD, namely Star Sports 3 and Star Sports HD3.
By launching regional sports channels, the broadcaster aims to take sports deeper into these regional markets and increase sports consumption. It had tasted success in the entertainment business by launching regional entertainment channels. It hopes to repeat that success in sports broadcasting.
So far, Star India has been airing regional feeds of sports properties on its regional movie channels or on second GECs. The launch of dedicated regional sports channels will give it room to offer more sports properties in regional languages.
Star India’s subsidiary Vijay Television has also received an uplinking licence under the name Vijay HD.
Between December 2015 and January 2016, the ministry has granted 28 channel licences. With these new licences, the total private satellite TV channel licences in India stands at 857 as on 31 January 2016, including 399 news and current affairs channels and 458 non-news channels. The ministry has granted 983 TV channel permissions of which 126 have been cancelled so far.
It is pertinent to note that the licences in both the cases have been granted for English, Hindi and all regional languages.
ZEEL has received two uplinking licences under the names Ten 3 and Ten 4 in English, Hindi and all regional languages. It is pertinent to note that Taj Television, the company under which the licences for sports channels have been received, had received MIB’s approval to rename Ten Sports and Ten HD as Ten 1 and Ten 1 HD.
Sources in Ten Sports had earlier told TelevisionPost.com that the network was planning to launch new sports channels once it got new licences. It remains to be seen whether Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (ZEEL) will use the two new licences to launch more sports channels. It will also be interesting to see if Ten Sports will go for numeric style names for its sports channels on the lines of Star Sports.
Viacom18 has received seven uplinking licences in English, Hindi and all regional languages. The licences have been received under the names Back to School, MTV HD+, Supersonic, Colors Bounce, Playlist, X-Zone and Xcite.
Multi Screen Media (MSM), which has now been rebranded as Sony Pictures Networks (SPN), has received three new licences for Sony ESPN HD, SAB HD and Max HD. The company has already operationalised two licences by launching Sony ESPN HD and Max HD. It is also expected to launch SAB HD soon.
SPN’s subsidiary Bangla Entertainment has received an uplinking licence under the name Sony Tec. The company currently owns and operates Bengali channel Sony Aath.
Bennett Coleman and Company Ltd (BCCL), the parent company of Times Network, has received three new uplinking licences under the names Movies Now HD, Music Now and Romedy Now HD for English and all scheduled languages.
Prashant Chothani-promoted Celebrities Management has received an uplinking licence under the name Travel XP. The company currently runs travel and lifestyle channel Travel XP HD. Chothani had earlier told TelevisionPost.com that the company had plans to launch a food and lifestyle channel called Food XP.