India set to launch its first private education channel

India set to launch its first private education channel
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First Published: Sun, Jan 20 2008. 11 59 PM IST

Good to go: Promoter of media group Network18 Raghav Bahl. (Photo: Harikrishna Katragadda/ Mint)
Good to go: Promoter of media group Network18 Raghav Bahl. (Photo: Harikrishna Katragadda/ Mint)
Updated: Sun, Jan 20 2008. 11 59 PM IST
New Delhi: The Indian middle-class’ obsession with education has resulted in tuition businesses and prep-schools, that prepare students for competitive exams, coming up all over the country.
Now, the country is set to get its first private education TV channel called, aptly enough, Topper TV. The channel will be launched by Greycells18 Media Pvt. Ltd, a joint venture between Raghav Bahl, the promoter of media group Network18, and three other media professionals.
The channel has already started working on its content. According to a person involved in the project, it will have capsules on subjects such as maths, physics and chemistry. The programming would largely be exam-centric and prepare students for various competitive tests.
Good to go: Promoter of media group Network18 Raghav Bahl. (Photo: Harikrishna Katragadda/ Mint)
Greycells18 Media is looking to launch Topper TV by March or April, although it is yet to get some of the regulatory approvals needed to do so from the government, according to people involved with the project. The company has been promoted by Bahl in association with Shantanu Prakash, the promoter of Educomp Solutions Ltd, a company that provides technology-driven learning solutions; Sunil Khanna, who has headed the direct to home (DTH) ventures of Reliance — Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group and the EsselGroup’s DishTV; and Shricharan Iyengar, former vice-president of sales and marketing at ESPN Software India Pvt Ltd, a sports broadcaster.
Iyengar and Khanna declined to comment.
Mint could not independently confirm if the investment in GreyCell has come from Network18 or Bahl in his personal capacity. When asked if Network18 was launching an education channel, group CEO Haresh Chawla said, “We are launching an education channel but we can’t share much details right now.”
Network18 runs channels such as CNN IBN and CNBC TV18. Most of the content production for the new channel has been outsourced primarily to three production houses—Miditech Pvt. Ltd, Entertainment Solution Providers Pvt. Ltd (ESP) and Tangerine Digital Entertainment (a company whose website lists Bahl as mentor), said a person working on the project who did not wish to be identified. Miditech will provide content on mathematics, ESP on physics and Tangerine on ­chemistry.
Topper TV will be offered through DTH and iPTV (internet protocol TV; a service provided by some telecom companies) formats and will be a subscription-based channel with minimal advertizing. The venture will also have a paid portal and will offer content on mobile phones as well.
Currently, two government run channels—Gyan Darshan and Vyas—operate in the education broadcast space. Some private players, such as Noida-based Amity University, have evinced interest in entering the segment. Amity University said in October that it would launch a 24-hour educational channel in early 2008. Subhash Chandra’s Zee Telefilms Ltd had launched an educational channel called Zed in 1998 but pulled the plug on it in 2000. “We were perhaps a decade early in that space,” said Ashish Kaul, senior vice-president at Zee Telefilms.
Media analysts said niche ventures such as these may have a good potential.
Farokh Balsara, national sector leader for media and entertainment at audit and consulting firm Ernst and Young said: “Interactive education on the Web has already taken off in a big way. With a young population and an education system that is not very interactive, there will be demand for a good-quality, interactive offering.
“Its success, of course, depends on the quality of content, distribution, time zones and marketing buzz,” he said.
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First Published: Sun, Jan 20 2008. 11 59 PM IST