Amrita TV, the 24-hour Malayalam Television channel promoted by devotees of Mata Amritanandamayi, went on air from April 14, starting 7 pm, with the 'Amrita Film Fraternity Awards' held in Trivandrum. The channel's news bulletins are set to start from April 18, with seven bulletins a day. Neelan, who has moved in from Asianet, will be the Chief News Editor for the channel.
On the news content of the channel, Neelan said, "Amrita TV will be sensitive to news, but never sensationalise news. 35 per cent of the news carried across channels is the same. So the difference will come in the presentation." Of the day's programming, five and a half hours have been allotted to news and current affairs. On each day of the week, one half hour show from among themes like Investigative stories, Sports round up, Reporter's Diary and Interviews would be aired.
Other movements into the channel include Ajayan, the former Sr. VP of Asianet Cable Vision, Asianet's cable network, who moves in as Executive Producer. Suresh Narayanan, the former CEO of Kairali TV, joins Amrita as Executive Director - Marketing & Corporate Planning. A former Director of Doordarshan credited with setting up several Kendras in Kerala, G P Nair, moves into Amrita TV as its Technical Head. Suresh Babu from Mathrubhumi has been roped in as News Editor.
In a recorded video message, Amritananda Mayi Devi or 'Amma' as she is known to her devotees, said, "Today, TV and newspapers have become an indispensable part of our lives. There are already so many TV channels. We may question the necessity of yet another." She said that the channel would attempt to 'reform and refine the mind through cultivation of values. She added, "The media should help people to think and act with maturity. To discriminate between the truth and untruth and to being out reality - this is the dharma of the media."
In Kerala's state capital on the festive occasion of Vishu on Thursday, one witnessed extensive outdoor visibility of Amrita TV. The frenzied festivities, though, were unmistakably different from typical awards nights as we know them. How many film-award nights can boast of heart-warming performances by school kids, which can prove as entertaining to audiences as the synchronized mass-gyrations we're all too familiar with? Or for that matter, classical dance performances that can hold the audience spellbound in spite of an intermittent drizzle? The event revealed a lot about the positioning of the channel - 'Your channel to goodness'.
At the function attended by danseuse Sonal Mansingh, film stars Mamooty, Mohanlal, Suresh Gopi, Shilpa Shetty, Shobhana, producer Ramesh Sippy, composer Bhupen Hazarika, and others the film awards were handed over to the winners. Amrita TV constituted the awards in association with the Trivandrum Film Academy.
Sudhakar Jayaram, the Tanjore-born ex-Infosys hand who is Chief General Manager, Amrita TV, summed up the thinking behind the channel, saying, "Amrita TV's objective is to provide clean and quality entertainment that is uplifting and elevating."
While the channel is admittedly guided by their Amma's vision, it has gone further and dipped into the market before going on air. In a detailed survey across members of the public in Kerala, the channel learnt that while there was a general resentment against serials, Keralites felt the need for programming that encouraged a positive way of life, a need for healthy, value-oriented children's programming, and programs that the family could watch and enjoy together. The channel hopes to cater to these needs in a market with established players including Asianet, Surya, and Kairali TV and relatively newer entrants Kiran and Asianet Plus.