The Government on August 11 has given its approval to Rajat Sharma’s next 24-hour news channel, India TV Wiz. The approval means that Sharma’s Independent News Service (INS) can now launch this premium news channel, which will be in both Hindi and English languages. The channel is expected to launch in six months’ time.
India TV Wiz is said to be the first 24-hour news channel to be approved under the UPA Government in its second term. INS will be positioning Wiz as a twin to India TV. The channel aims to have a synergy with the Sharma’s vision to connect with new-age audiences through his digital media business, India TV Interactive.
When contacted, Sharma confirmed the Government approval for this project, which had been kept under wraps so far. He said, “Careful planning and research behind Wiz will hit the airwaves. Wiz will be up in six months, perhaps earlier in beta form. You will see a truly unique bouquet of content that will make it a nation-wide phenomenon. Thanks to its ideator, Wiz will break the mould. It will give premium advertisers a bouquet of screens that support true marketing innovation, reaching their message to top-of-the-line audiences across TAM cities and the next wave of conditional access markets. Wiz will be plugged on to new media and mobile platforms from day one. Finally, Wiz will power a world-class partner for international news.”
As for editorial leadership, Sharma, who is Group Editor-in-Chief, will run Wiz on a hands-on basis. He refused to divulge any names at this stage.
Sharma is Chairman of Independent News Service (INS) and Editor-in-Chief of India TV. INS was co-founded by Sharma and veteran television producer Ritu Dhawan in 1998. Sharma edited important publications before entering the television space in 1992 with the iconic ‘Aap Ki Adalat’ and India’s first private news bulletin.
INS launched India TV in August 2004. The company has received FDI equivalent to Rs 50.9 crore from Fuse+ Media for a 19.17 per cent stake, which took INS’ enterprise value to Rs 270 crore. Fuse+ Media is an entity of ComVentures, a leading Silicon Valley-based venture capital and private equity group with over $1.5 billion of assets under management. In early 2008, after another strategic investment, INS’ enterprise value stood at Rs 500 crore.