Karnataka will soon have a 24-hr Kannada news channel with a journalist at the helm of affairs. The launch of the channel, named Public TV, is tentatively scheduled for January 26, 2012. It has been promoted by Writemen Media Pvt Ltd, an independent company floated to start this venture.
Veteran journalist HR Ranganath is Chairman and Managing Editor of Writeman Media, who comes in with an experience of 24 years in media, with close to 17-19 years in the print industry. Arun Kumar has been roped in as CEO, while S Divaakar is Vice President, Sales and Marketing.
Elaborating on the reasons for starting this channel, Ranganath said, “Over the last two years, corruption has come to a head. Therefore, it is now important for journalism, the last post of democracy, to take the lead in dealing with it to bring in a measure of credibility into the system. The name of our company - Writemen Media - is an inspired project of journalistic thinking and reflects the same principles. We embarked on this project keeping the average citizen in mind, and hence, the name of the channel.” The organisation has also brought in a system to ensure transparency in their workings and will also appoint an ‘Assets’ Ombudsman. The Chairman and Managing Editor (here, HR Ranaganath) shall publicly announce his assets on Day 1. If any undisclosed properties are found, they shall be auctioned. This measure shall be put in place for all employees to ensure that the company is answerable to the public.
The general perception in the industry is that floating a regional channel requires a capital expenditure of approximately Rs 45-50 crore. At times, this figure is even inflated to fall in the range of Rs 100-150 crore. Public TV’s capex comes up to less than 25 per cent of this amount.
Ranganath added, “The revenue returns from regional news channels is nowhere in the range of the returns from entertainment channels. So, it is important to consider the revenue return model before deciding on the capital expenditure. Our intention is not to overspend, but to spend logically in the right areas, keeping the revenue return in mind.” The spends towards promotions and brand building activities for the channel through traditional and non-traditional routes falls in the range of around 20-25 per cent of the capex for the project. The channel will be available on digital and analog platforms through various MSOs.
Public TV will be the seventh Kannada news channel in the state, competing with Udaya News, Suvarna News 24x7, TV9 Karnataka, Samaya TV, Janashri, and Kasthuri Newz 24. It is common knowledge that all these existing channels have got political backing – Udaya News is from Sun Network’s stable; businessman and MP Rajeev Chandrashekhar owns Suvarna News; Samaya TV is backed by Industries Minister Murugesh Nirani; Janashri is backed by BJP politician Gali Janardhana Reddy; and former Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy owns Kasthuri Newz. Public TV claims to receive no funding from politicians or businessmen.
On future plans, Ranganath said, “We have plans to launch one or two additional channels and also make a foray into print media at some point in time.”