Cashing in on the mind-boggling growth and spiralling demands in the television news space, print major ABP is now planning to hit the tube as Media Content and Communications Services India (MCCS) – a joint venture between ABP TV, a 100 per cent subsidiary of ABP group, and STAR group – that airs STAR News, announced the plan to launch a Bengali news channel, in Kolkata on Tuesday. The 24-hour Bengali news channel, the first of its kind, aims to be positioned as a national news and information channel and not a regional channel, with focus on Bengal.
Armed with an experienced technical team and an editorial squad under the aegis of Suman Chattopadhyay, Executive Editor, Anandabazar Patrika – who would take over as the Executive Producer, the channel would cover all major areas of local, national or international interests. To be headquartered in Kolkata, the channel would have extensive bureau network connecting different corners of West Bengal and India. As per Uday Shankar, STAR News chief executive, the group would recruit around 150 people over and above the existing workforce at the different STAR News bureaus. The channel would also leverage resources from the ABP group, assured Aniruddha Lahiri, Managing Director, ABP.
With all major strategies in place, the channel is awaiting a go-ahead from the Government of India. MCCS applied for the up-linking permission from the Government in September and is expecting the green signal shortly. “The channel would be launched as soon as the approval is given,” said Shankar. However, the group is yet to decide the name for the channel. MCCS has urged viewers to suggest name.
Calling the venture as a small step to make a greater presence in the media space, Lahiri shared that with the new channel on air, the media major aspire to be the Bengal’s window to the world. “As the oldest and most respected journalistic brand in the East, ABP has played a significant role in the development of West Bengal and has been at the forefront in providing relevant news and information to the people of Bengal. With STAR News, this is our new departure in the electronic horizon,” Lahiri said while addressing the Press.
Following its re-launch in 2003 as a 24-hour Hindi news channel, STAR News has embarked heavily on strengthening activities. Subsequent to ABP’s buying out of 76 per cent stake in the channel, there has been a thrust on filling the vacuum of a dedicated regional language news channel. “With elections in the offing, regional news channels would play a great role in Bengal,” observed Peter Mukerjea, CEO – STAR India.
The channel would eventually reach out to the entire Bengali diaspora spread across the UK, the US, and other places where STAR News runs operations. Stressing on the potential that language channels hold, Mukerjea said that this kind of regional language channels would boost penetration of television in the country.
It is known that MCCS has been toying with plans to launch a number of channels that includes options ranging from regional language news channels to an English news channel and a business news channel. The group, however, mentioned that nothing was finalised.
Meanwhile, asked about the crime channel from the STAR News stable that was tipped to be topping the preference list, Shankar told exchange4media, “It would rather be called a safety channel as it would focus on the different issues that matter to our everyday life and safety. However, we are yet to freeze on this as nothing has been finalised till now.”