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TV18 to launch 3 regional-language news channels

MUMBAI: TV18 Broadcast-controlled ETV News Network is planning to launch three news channels in election-bound Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam.

Incidentally, the channels will be launched under the News18 brand and not ETV, as has been the case until now. The channels are to be called News18 Tamil Nadu, News18 Kerala and News18 Assam/North East.

ETV News Network head Jagdish ChandraThe network is awaiting regulatory clearances to launch the channels. “We are waiting for regulatory clearances to launch channels in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Assam. We plan to launch the channels in April,” ETV News Network head Jagdish Chandra told TelevisionPost.com.

According to a source close to the development, the network was planning to launch the channels on 25 March. As per the revised plan, the channels are most likely to go on air in the first week of April, coinciding with the state assembly elections.

The assembly elections in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Assam and Puducherry will be held between 4 April and 16 May. The results will be announced on 19 May.

Tamil Nadu and Kerala are crowded TV news markets with well-entrenched players. In Tamil Nadu, Sun TV Network’s Sun News rules the roost. Asianet is an old player in Kerala.

Both states have strong news channels owned by print publications. In Tamil Nadu, Puthiya Thalaimurai, a Tamil magazine from SRM Group, and Thanthi TV, a daily newspaper from Thanthi Trust, are strong players. In Kerala, Malayalam print majors Malayala Manorama and Mathrubhmi have TV presence through Manorama News and Mathrubhumi News respectively.

Channels with political connections also dot the TV landscape in the two states. Examples include Kalaignar TV (DMK), Jaya News (AIADMK) and Lotus TV (BJP) in Tamil Nadu. In Kerala, it is Jaihind TV (Congress) and Kairali TV (CPM).

The TV news business in Assam is still in its infancy with News Live, Prag News, Assam Talks, DY 365 and Pratidin Time being some of the key players.

TV18 is the largest television news network in the country. Under the ETV brand, it already runs 10 regional-language channels, namely ETV Uttar Pradesh/Uttarakhand, ETV Madhya Pradesh/Chhattisgarh, ETV Bihar/Jharkhand, ETV Rajasthan, ETV News Bangla, ETV News Kannada, ETV News Gujarati, ETV News Odia, ETV News Haryana/Himachal and ETV News Urdu.

TV18 also owns and operates six other news channels, including English news channel CNN-IBN, Hindi news channel IBN7, and business news channels CNBC TV18, CNBC Awaaz and CNBC Bazaar in English, Hindi and Gujarati respectively. IBN-Lokmat is a Marathi news channel with TV18 and Lokmat Group as equal joint venture partners.

Gunasekaran M has been roped in as editor of News18 Tamil Nadu. Pramod Raghavan will be heading News18 Kerala as associate editor. M Saikia is the news editor of News18 Assam/North East.

The channels will be initially telecast from Hyderabad as creating infrastructure in the respective states will take time. The operations will move to the respective states after the elections.

“For the time being, the channel will be telecast from Hyderabad because we have the infrastructure there. It will take 2–3 months to build infrastructure in these states. After elections, we will shift operations to those states,” the source added.

The network will lease business centres in hotels as temporary office for the three channels for the elections.

The channels will have state bureaus in each state with 10–15 reporters each. Besides the main bureau, the channels will have small regional centres in the districts comprising reporters, stringers and news informers. This way, the channels will be able to cover each assembly constituency, the source stated.

The first to sport the News18 brand was News18 India, TV18’s international news channel for the Indian diaspora. Subsequently, the brand was extended to digital with News18.com, which was launched in 2014 as a local news portal covering news from states where ETV has presence. News18.com has since been rebranded Pradesh18.com.