Chennai: News channels are the flavour of the season. So can the Tamil satellite channel world lag behind? No. So, it is the turn of Jaya TV to launch one. Jaya TV vice president (marketing) K Balaswaminathan says the news channel is in the proposal stage and a final decision is yet to be taken.
Though there are 10 Tamil language channels, only the Sun TV group has a 24-hour news channel, Sun News. Recently Raj Television announced its decision to start a round-the-clock news channel.
Balaswaminathan is quite happy about the channel''s financial performance. "We have been doubling our revenues ever since we started operations three-and-a-half years ago. Last fiscal we closed with a revenue of Rs 40 crore and this year we hope to touch Rs 60 crore."
It sounds strange. Why? Because Jaya TV''s programmes do not figure in the TRP ratings. But Balaswaminathan says advertisers find value in the channel, which he tries to establish by providing the revenue figures.
Most programmes claim to have the support from advertisers and sponsors. "Major regional brands like Gold Winner (cooking oil), Viking (inner garments), Pothy''s (garment showroom), Gokul Sandal (talcum powder) and many others have realised the value of our channel," he says.
About the ratings Balaswaminathan says the sample size where the people''s meter is located is too small for a market like Tamil Nadu. "While the commercial spots for Anni [a programme on the channel] got totally booked, reflecting the show''s popularity, it did not figure in the TRP ratings."
Moreover, the reliability of ratings is also a question. For instance when Vijay TV was taken off the air by Sun Cable Vision (SCV) - the sole multi-system operator (MSO) in Chennai, Coimbatore and Madurai - the channel''s programme got the TRP ratings.
Further, with channel companies owning cable operations and having personnel with access to homes with people''s meter the chances of manipulating the households are high. When stakes are very high, a channel can even supply an alternate free television to such households with a request to view only its own channel on the television fitted with the meter while with the other set could air their favoured channels.
According to Balaswaminathan TRP uncertainty would persist even after the implementation of the conditional access system (CAS), when it comes to free-to-air channels.
And advertiser support for afternoon programmes is less, as they are targeted at non-spenders (read: unemployed youth and old people). "If not today, in the near future viewers will surely switch over to our channel that shows programmes based on positive attitudes," Balaswaminathan adds.
Compared to other Tamil channels that are focused on tear-jerking serials and film-based programmes, Jaya TV has been treading a different path. "We strive to be different from other channels and our programmes are in line with that idea."
The channel has several firsts to its credit like programmes based on humour, women issues, first aid, children, game show for old people, religion, carnatic music, musical soap and breakfast shows.
While some Tamil channels are in a new film-buying spree, would they be able to recover the cost is the question doing the rounds. Today, TV rights for a new film would cost around Rs 1.5 crore. According to industry players, TV channels can see some profits if they air films for the first time. "Repeat telecasts or repackaging will not get sufficient advertiser support."
According to Balaswaminathan, Jaya TV has a library of 900 films and is not in the race to buy rights for new films.