Amrita TV, the 24-hour Malayalam television channel promoted by devotees of spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi or 'Amma,' is expected to go on air on April 14, with entertainment, news and 'value-based' programmes. According to the promoters, they may look at a Hindi channel on similar lines in the near future.
Speaking to exchange4media, Sudhakar Jayaram, the channel's chief general manager, said, "We are extremely busy with the launch event which is the 'Amrita Film Fraternity Awards.' Last minute preparations are on track for launch on the 14th." The awards are to be announced late on Tuesday evening, and will be given out on Thursday at the launch event.
The channel has roped in several leading professionals from the Malayalam Film and Television industry, including national award winning director Shyama Prasad, who has joined as Programme Director, and senior film director Jude Attipetti. Neelan, a former Asianet hand, is expected to take care of the News Division, while Percy Joseph will be Head of the Graphics Cell. In addition to attracting talent from the Television and Film industries, the channel has also hired a lot of trainees with a view to developing fresh talent.
Amrita TV is expected to develop 60 per cent of its programming in-house, and plans to increase this to 70 per cent in due course. "We have set up a world class studio, with massive in-studio facilities," said a spokesperson from Kerala's state capital. The new channel claims to have the most modern equipment, using the MPEG/IMX format at a fully automated studio.
With talk shows, musicals, serials, feature films, news, current affairs, documentaries, and interviews, the channel will hope to address children's and elders' segments. Its plans to break even in a year are based on its programming strength, and Amrita TV will seek to deliver highly value-based, positive messages to society, according to the spokesperson. Even the film-based content is expected to be in tune with the values represented by the followers of 'Amma'.
For the news segment, the channel is setting up bureaus across Kerala and in all major metros and has put in place a 60-member strong team of reporters for the same. It plans to add five and a half hours of news and current affairs programming each day, and clarified that the spiritual content would not dominate the programming. Other shows conceived by the channel include a musical programme hosted by composer Illayaraaja and a show on the History of the film industry by popular Malayalam actress Sukumari.
While initially the programming would be primarily in Malayalam and partly in English, the promoters are actively considering a channel in Hindi, according to the spokesperson. Besides Asia, the channel will be available to viewers in North America, Australia and Europe through the INSAT 2E/APR 1 satellite. So far the group has invested Rs 25 crore in the channel.