For STAR News, the game plan has been simple – focus on one, strengthen it before moving on to another. Uday Shankar, CEO, STAR News stated that Media Content Communication Services (MCCS) focussed on getting the mark straight for STAR News. Having given the channel its full attention, it then headed to launch the Bengali channel. Now, with STAR Ananda throwing encouraging results, the other plans on the drawing board are finding shape too. While the plans include language and genre based channels, Shankar is clear that the first to materialise would be language channels.
Elaborating on the plan of action, he said, “The intention was to consolidate STAR News and we paid a hundred per cent attention to that. Next, we identified a potential market in Bengali language channel, launched STAR Ananda with every necessary arrangement to ensure that we have a good product on our hands and the response has been very positive. There is no doubt that we are keen to do other things.”
Explaining further, he said, “We are quite encouraged by the STAR Ananda experience and we would definitely like to proliferate our language experience further. This is an exciting opportunity for us and there are a few more language channels on the drawing board at present.”
He said that MCCS would stay clear of Hindi and English language channels and not even look at the south. “That leaves us with this side of the country and the two most appealing markets are Maharashtra and Gujarat. These two are something that we will look at in the near future.” One being asked how near that future was, Shankar replied, “You should see something this year itself.”
The other set of channels that has MCCS’ attention for some time is genre based channel. On what the scheme of affairs is on that, he replied, “I am still excited about that and there are plans too, but there hasn’t been much development on them yet. Language is priority also because everyone is ready.”
MCCS is not too keen on city-centric news channels. According to Shankar, conceptually there wasn’t much difference between a language channel and a city-centric channel. “If we were to do a Gujarati channel, the emphasis will be on the key cities in the state – there really isn’t much difference,” he explained.
Also, STAR News isn’t in a hurry to launch a barrage of channels, even though the Indian news scene would look like some of the players do enjoy the benefits of cornering a larger Network share if not channel share. Giving his point of view on this, Shankar said, “We don’t have faith in that approach. You can’t build a successful Network on poorly performing channels and so I think it is important to get the product right rather than just adding to the bouquet. It is like writing a board exam. What’s the big idea to get an average first class without a distinction in some disciplines?”