Mass entertainment channel Aakash Bangla is functioning as a 24-hour news channel beginning May 10 up to May 14 to cater to the information needs of Bengali-speaking people who are known to be quite politically inclined, particularly in times of elections.
Explaining the move, Umesh Roy Chowdhury, COO, Channel Eight, said, "Aakash Bangla is the first mass entertainment channel to walk this road. We are airing live news from the Capital and the states for the five days, with a telefilm each night.”
He added that during the electoral process “it is our duty to keep the viewers updated with the latest twists and turns in the election saga."
"Our viewers are our biggest assets and we make it a point to satisfy their needs. Another indicator of this fact is our policy of not having more than 12 minutes of advertising per hour, even if it involves dropping ads. The average time of advertising in other channels is 18 minutes," he said.
Chowdhury said that while a host of English and Hindi news channels had lined up election specials, no Bengali channel had planned similar news programmes. Aakash Bangla hopes to meet the felt need in the Bengali segment with its 24-hour news programmes.
”Even otherwise, Aakash Bangla has a programming format that includes hourly news updates throughout the day," Chowdhury said, adding that "another advantage that Aakash Bangla has over the competitors is the fact that ours is the only channel that is uplinked from Kolkata”.
Aakash Bangla is an independent channel and does not belong to any bouquet. Asked if there are any plans to join a bouquet, Chowdhury said, "We would like to be a separate entity and not become a part of any group of channels."
When asked if the advertisers would adjust to the change in format for the five days, he said, “All of them have converted their advertising spots to the news channel."
Aakash Bangla was launched three years ago as a joint venture with Channel Eight, a production house. While Channel Eight takes care of the marketing
in the northern, western and southern regions and entertainment programming, Aakash
Bangla handles the eastern market and provides news content.