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Battle royale for eyeballs begins in Tamil Nadu

19-September-2007
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Battle royale for eyeballs begins in Tamil Nadu

Stage is set for television channels in Tamil Nadu to fight it out to claim supremacy. Ever since Kalanithi Maran launched Sun Network around 15 years ago, its flagship Tamil GEC Sun TV has enjoyed monopoly leadership. However, today Sun is facing some serious challenge. And the challenge is coming from none other than Maran’s grand uncle and Tamil Nadu CM M Karunanidhi in the form of Kalaignar TV, named after him.

Though other satellite channels like Jaya TV, Raj TV and Vijay TV have co-existed in this space for a long time now, nobody posed a real threat to Sun TV. All these channels could not match the influence, content and distribution power of Maran’s Sun Network.

As a venerate journalist put it, “In a state where the media scenario is perilously interwoven with the political fabric of the state, as long as you are aligned with some major political parities, you have the world at your feet.” Now, with political patronage gone for Sun TV, for obvious reasons, will the Sun continue to shine as bright?

Obviously, those in the business of television and media do not want to be named. One such media planner observed, “Sun TV is too well entrenched to be immediately replaced by any new channel.” One of the reasons for Sun TV being successful is that the channel has been offering good content consistently over the years. Sun TV has banked heavily on films, film-based content and tear jerker soaps and has never taken its viewers for granted.

Since the announcement of Kalaignar TV’s programming, Sun TV seems to have been overshadowed. Not that the channel hasn’t spruced up its already strong line-up of shows and movies, but the scale at which Kalaignar TV has commenced its operations has equaled, if not bettered, Sun TV.

Kalaignar TV has not only picked up the television rights of several major hits, including Rajnikanth’s ‘Sivaji’, it has also lined up a mix of stars and soaps – and film-based content – which have the potential to take Sun TV head on. According to sources, the channel already has more than 40 new films in its kitty to lure viewers from rivals, and to ensure high TRP ratings within a few days of its launch.

This apart, Kalaignar TV is reported to have poached around 50 per cent of Sun TV’s staff – the numbers reported keep varying from one publication to the other. But that list includes two top executives and at least one top newsperson. Prestigious film production houses like Sivaji Productions, AVM Productions and Annamalai Film Productions are among its panel of producers. The channel has also signed on popular actors like Khushboo, Simran, Devayani and K R Vijaya.

If the first two days’ programming of Kalaignar TV is anything to go by, the channel is already a hit among the masses. Kalaignar TV aired two blockbuster movies – ‘Mozhi’ and ‘Imsai Arasan 23am Pulikesi’ – on September 15, the day of the launch. The FPC of Kalaignar TV, dominated by movies, film-related content and soaps, is sure to woo the viewers and cut into Sun TV’s viewership. Admittedly, it’s trying to adopt Sun TV’s winning formula – and better it.

So, is Sun TV’s monopoly over with the launch of Kalaignar TV? With the launch of the government’s MSO, the going will only get tougher for the behemoth. Kalaignar TV is the most potent competition Sun TV has ever faced. It will need all its arsenal to withstand this challenger brand.

However, it’s not all bad news for Sun TV on the news front. With variety (of political parties, leaders and views) coming on to Sun TV’s news bulletins, post the divide with the political party’s leadership (DMK), one sees a more acceptable, neutral news alternative in the language for the first time in what seems ages.

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