Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Reliance Big Broadcasting to launch 33 news channels

There finally seems to be some action at Reliance ADAG's broadcast stable, Reliance Big Broadcasting (RBB). Although Big officials are tight-lipped about the venture, sources close to the company say several channels will see the light of the day very soon. RBB has applied to the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry for a licence to operate 33 news channels, the highest for any single broadcaster so far. It has already got the downlink licence for 18 non-news channels under the brand name 'Big'.

Once it gets the necessary approvals, RBB would own over 50 television channels, the highest among all the existing broadcasters. The Zee Group, Star India and Eenadu groups own less than 25 channels in their bouquet. I&B Ministry officials say that of the 100 pending applications for news channels from 46 different firms, 33 are from RBB stable. And of the 33 applications, 29 are for regional news, each for its respective state of India. Sources say that RBB will begin operations of its business news channels (Big News Business English and Hindi) in first quarter of 2010-2011. Among others, RBB has applied for news channels like Big News Business English, Big News Business Hindi, Big News Crime, Big News Urdu, Big News Sports and regional channels Big News Gujarati, Big News Marathi, Big News Punjabi, Big News Telugu, Big News Tamil, Big News Kannada, Big News Malayalam, among others.

Overall, there are about 480 television channels allowed to operate in the country, of which 233 are news channels. Of the latter, 207 are uplinked from within the country. Currently, the news channels generate around Rs 1,000 crore of revenues from on-air advertising, with a roughly equal share of Hindi and English. Others who have also applied for a licence to operate news channels include TV18 India (CNBC TV18-South, CNBC TV18-Gujarati, CNBC TV18-Channel-3), Zee News Ltd. (Zee Biz, Zee Bangla USA, Zee Telugu, USA), Triveni Media (TML Voice of India-NCR, Voice of India-Gujarati, Voice of India-Punjab, Voice of India-Amchi Mumbai), Sahara India (Sahara Marathi, Sahara Bengali, Sahara Bhojpuri, Sahara Gujarati, Sahara English) and INX News (Delhi 011, Mumbai 022, Kolkata 033, Bengaluru 080), among others.


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