New Delhi: At close to 4 in the evening, the lane next to Amity University is packed with students’ cars, from regular Marutis to flashy four-wheel drives, creating a fierce traffic jam off the Greater Noida expressway. Inside the 67-acre campus, students mill around, going in and out of classes that will let them specialize in new subjects such as cyber law, forensics and nanotechnology, apart from the tried and trusted science or business.
Amity now plans to use these students—45,000 across its high schools and college campuses—to teach other students how to choose the right courses of study and the right career. This will happen through a 24-hour television channel that Amity will launch in the next six-eight months. Programmes, centred on education, will be made in an on-campus studio, by students.
Tuning in: Aseem K. Chauhan, additional president and board member, with students of Amity University, Noida
“Our strength is our students,” said Aseem Chauhan, the 32-year-old son of the founder.
“We are involving a lot of our students in filming and production. They will be involved as anchors, producers, even viewers.”
The swanky campus already has part of the infrastructure, all set up for various courses that it offers at undergraduate and postgraduate levels in journalism, mass communication and cinematography.
Amity, which is run by a family-owned trust, does not disclose its finances to the public. It charges tuition fees of Rs25,000-85,000 per semester at the undergraduate level and Rs40,000 to Rs120,000 at the post-graduate level. Hostel charges are extra.
Amity says it will invest Rs20 crore in the television network in the first few months. It will increase the investment in the next phase. Media planners say an education channel can be a good bet.
“Education is a big business in India. If they get their act right, it will be interesting”, said Punitha Arumugam, Group CEO, Madison Media, who has 15 years’ experience in media buying. “All the success stories in television are of specialization”.
Amity’s education television network will compete with two networks of state-owned Doordarshan—Gyan Darshan and Vyas. Both are 24-hour education networks but suffer from low visibility.
Vyas is beamed exclusively for undergraduate students, sometimes teaching complete courses such as script writing on its network. Gyan Darshan has slotted timing for programmes for school students, collegiates, and even students of the Indian Institutes of Technology. The only privately run education television network, Zed TV, shut down after its launch seven years ago. Subhash Chandra’s Zee Network, which owned Zed TV, declined to give reasons for the closure.
Although the 20-somethings wandering in and out of Amity University’s TV studio on campus are unaware of the university’s plans to start a television network, Chauhan says the students are part of his plan. He will only hire a core team of TV professionals. For the rest, he will depend on students. If they are good, he might even start paying them. The network is called Youth TV.
The Chauhans—who live as a joint family with Ashok Chauhan, founder of the university, sharing the same house with his brothers, two sons and their families—are part of a growing tribe of college promoters to venture into broadcast and entertainment. Arindam Chaudhuri, who runs the Indian Institute of Planning and Management, has branched off into publishing and film production, with his latest film, The Last Lear, starring Amitabh Bachchan and Preity Zinta.