official now that Sharma would be launching India TV, a 24-hour Hindi
language news and current affairs (N&CA) channel, early next year.
The uplink permission was obtained last year in a quiet manner.
According to sources, the whole project, being put together for
the last six months with the help of Ernst & Young, would need
investments to the tune of Rs 1,000 million, including transponder
Initially, approximately Rs 700 million is being pumped into the
news channel, to be beamed through `hotbird' PanAmSat 10. The amount
will also be utilised for acquiring real estate of about 80,000
sq. ft and building a state-of-the-art infrastructure, specially
for transmission of N&CA programming.
To raise the initial funding for the project, promoter Sharma and
his wife, Ritu Dhawan, have divested 26 per cent equity stake to
two Indian investors who can be considered friends of the promoters,
apart from being professionals.
In the future, INS promoters are looking at roping in another strategic
partner who can take up to 23 per cent stake in the company. This
would mean that the promoters would retain 51 per cent majority
control of the company.
The company, however, is not looking at attracting foreign investment
in the news channel venture.
INS has reportedly brought in professionals to handle various other
related activities like distribution and ad sales, but the marketing
aspect would be looked after by Euro-RSCG.
A former general manager with India's long distance telecom carrier
Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL), has
been brought in as the technical head.
Though India TV would like to stand alone like MTV, the likelihood
of hitching up with one of the existing bouquets - Star, One Alliance
and Zee Turner - for distribution purpose cannot be ruled out in
The good news of turning the TV software house into a broadcasting
company was conveyed to the INS employees in a personal letter sent
to each of them by Rajat Sharma yesterday. The employee strength
of the company goes up to 250 over the next two months.
Sharma's letter sought to impress upon the employees and colleagues
that after five years with Zee and almost five years with Star,
it was time to move ahead. The obvious road ahead for Sharma was
to launch his own news channel - India TV.
Sharma's company, which produces the two editions of Aaj Ki
Baat news shows on Star News at the moment, would cease to do
so from this month-end. The reason: Star India feels that such news
shows can be produced in-house.
Sharma decided to go ahead with a news channel - in a scenario
where channels are mushrooming all over in India - after considering
a IMRB-conducted survey which showed, there is still scope for a
Hindi language news channel and the market can probably sustain
Amongst the Hindi news channels currently on air are market leader
Aaj Tak, NDTV India, Zee News, Star News and three Sahara Samay
Doordarshan too proposes relaunch its news channel with predominantly
The IMRB survey, commissioned by INS to gauge the market response,
also highlighted the fact that Sharma's brand equity is high amongst
viewers - something that India TV would certainly like to cash in
on to translate into
Meanwhile, INS' studio complex located in Film City, Noida, is
being given finishing touches at the moment. The complex has four
floors; and one of the studio floors is understood to be the biggest