Kochi: India Vision channel, promoted by MK Muneer, Kerala's minister for the public works department and an Indian Union Muslim League legislator, is in the final stages of talks with the Rupert Murdoch-owned Start TV network for a tie-up. If the deal goes through, Star would help market and distribute India Vision channel, the latest entrant into the field of satellite TV in Kerala that is expected go on air in January 2002.
Physician-turned-politician Muneer told domain-B that the channel has been working overtime to seal a deal with an established network. Initially we had plans to tie up with Sony Entertainment Television, but the talks fell through. Now, we are in the final stages joining hands with Star.
India Vision would be the fifth satellite channel in Malayalam. The four channels that occupy the thick airspace of Kerala are Doordarshan, Asianet, Surya and Kairali.
Jeevan TV, another Malayalam channel, is expected to be launched soon and has already started recruiting staff. The channel has the backing of a premier church in the state. Reportedly, a Malayalam channel backed by spiritual leader Mata Amrithanandamayi might also go on air shortly.
India Vision channel, which had initially planned to start operations from the Onam season in August, has already commenced work, with reporters and cameramen covering almost all major functions in the state.
An industry source said the decision to postpone the launch of the new channel was taken when the promoters witnessed the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-promoted Kairali TV ending the first year with a massive loss of around Rs 73 million.
India Vision authorities say the total investment for their channel is envisaged to be in the range of Rs 800 million. In four years time, another Rs 2 billion would be required, but they are confident that it would break even in a span of four to five years. India Vision has been registered as a private limited broadcasting company and its shares have already been placed in the market. The response, the authorities say, has been good.
The other area where the channel is expected to focus on is information technology. Unlike other channels, the thrust would be on programmes on Keralas culture; there would also be special programmes in English," said Muneer, son of former Kerala chief minister C H Mohammed Koya.
India Vision channel, which would have its base in Kochi, would be free for viewers in India and the Gulf countries and would be a pay channel in the United States.