INX Media Pvt. Ltd, a broadcast venture led by entreprenuer Indrani Mukherjea, is hoping to launch its Hindi general entertainment and music channels towards the end of this year.
INX News Pvt. Ltd, a related company, will launch a “premium English news channel” early next year, dubbed “NewsX”.
The two companies will manage distribution, a vital part of the broadcast business where success often comes from getting a channel into many households, through Arun Mohan, a former executive vice-president, distribution, for Star India Pvt Ltd.
Mukherjea is married to former Star India CEO Peter Mukherjea, who resigned from that television network in January and is widely expected to formally join INX. He is currently finishing a non-compete agreement period that he had agreed to with Star.
The three channels are part of over two dozen new channels that are planned for Indian airwaves before the end of 2008 as television continues to be among the fastest growing media in India. By 2011, according to consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers, television will account for Rs51,900 crore, or 52%, of the industry’s annual revenue. According to Adex India, a division of Mumbai-based television rating agency TAM Media Research, the total ad spends in 2006 across all media stood at Rs16,300 crore and television accounted for 41% of it.
Sam Balsara, chairman and managing director, Madison Communications, a Mumbai-based marketing communications agency, maintains that the proliferation of channels can be a “nightmare” for advertisers. “With so many channels coming up, it is becoming difficult for advertisers to decide where to invest their money,” he says. “Survival of most of these will depend on differentiated content and their positioning and reach.”
INX’s entertainment channel will be targeted at families, says Mukherjea. “It’ll be about what the audience wants, not what we would like to show them,” she said. Mukherjea also added that an international flavour will also help INX stand out among existing and proposed channels.
INX said it has struck content deals with 11 television production companies, such as Balaji Telefilms Ltd, BAG Films & Media Ltd, Synergy Adlabs (producers of the highly-rated game show Kaun Banega Crorepati) and Endemol India, among others.
The channel will have both fiction and non-fiction shows and, in a somewhat unusual move for an Indian channel, INX has appointed different heads for both genres. Mukherjea said that the distinction between fiction and non-fiction was being left to people who understood each genre well.
Adds Kumud Chaudhury, head of fiction, 9X, the entertainment channel: “Our extensive research and experience gives us a deep understanding of our target audience and our focus will be the family unit.”
Mukherjea also maintains that the INX news channel will be different from the current crop of news channels. “Our news channel will not necessarily be targeted at the mainstream audience,” she said. The news channel’s CEO is senior journalist Vir Sanghvi. Mint runs a weekly column in Lounge, its Saturday magazine, written by Sanghvi, who also happens to be advisory editorial director for The Hindustan Times. Both Mint and Hindustan Times are published by HT Media Ltd.
INX has said it received financial backing from Singapore’s Temasek Holdings via its Dunearn Investments subsidiary, New Silk Route Partners, New Vernon Private Equity, SREI, Kotak Mahindra Capital Co., Kotak Private Equity, and IM Media Pvt. Ltd.