Raj Television Network Ltd, which recently raised money from the public, is planning to launch a new Tamil language satellite channel, called Kalaignar TV, within two months, said a senior company official.
‘Kalaignar’ is a Tamil word meaning artiste, and Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi is often called ‘Doctor Kalaignar’ by his followers.
But, “the new channel would have nothing to do with the ruling DMK (Dravida Munnetra Kazahgam) party,” insisted M. Raajhendran, chairman and managing director of Raj TV Network. “It is part our initial plans to launch 11 new channels and Kalaignar TV would be the first.”
Raajhendran claims the new channel would maintain ‘strict neutrality’ in its news coverage and would not function as a propaganda machine of any party. “The logo of the channel will not have the ‘rising sun’ (the DMK party symbol). You will see it in a week when we launch our first advertisement,” he said. Some news reports had suggested the DMK logo would be used by the channel as part of its branding.
The content of the channel would be a mix of entertainment and news. When asked about the rationale of launching a new channel with same content mix, Raajhendran said: “We want to create channels at different levels of affordability for the advertisers.”
In the last one week, shares of Raj TV have gained more than Rs 74, or around 39% with Monday’s trading alone seeing them jump by Rs14.3, or 5.76%.
Raajhendran said the share price gains coincided with the telecast of India-Bangladesh cricket match with Tamil commentary and denied reports that the DMK was picking up stake in Raj TV Network. “No member of DMK or DMK hold any share in Raj TV,” he said. The Tamil satellite channel viewership is dominated by Sun TV, the flagship channel of Sun TV Network, and KTV, a Tamil Movie channel from Sun Network. Other players are Jaya TV, which operates out of the residence of former chief minister J. Jayalalitha, Star TV owned Vijay TV, and a slew of small players such as Makkal TV.
When Karunanidhi celebrated his 50th year of being a state legislator in Chennai, Sun TV, owned by his grand nephew was denied permission to carry the event live. The telecast rights were instead given to Raj TV. The announcement of the new channel by Raj TV comes a week after Dayanidhi Maran, former Union cabinet minister of communications and information technology and grand nephew of Karunanidhi, was forced to resign by the DMK on the wake of a family feud. Maran’s removal came after violence in Madurai that led to the deaths of three employees belonging to Dinakaran, a Tamil language daily run by Maran’s brother, Kalanithi Maran, who also runs Sun TV.
The violence was in response to a survey published in ‘Dinakaran’ that asked people who would succeed Karunanidhi as his political heir. The survey, conducted along with A C Nielsen, said more than 70% were of the opinion that M.K. Stalin, Karunanidhi’s son would succeed, and only 2% felt M.K. Azhagiri, elder brother of M.K. Stalin, would succeed his father