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December 25, 2006

TV9 treads a different path

Businessworld has a profile of iLabs-backed TV9, the regional language news channel with an unusual positioning.

For those who are wondering what TV9 is and why we are writing about it, check out the rankings for the top 10 news channels over the last two years (see ‘Where TV9 Stands’). TV 9, set up in 2004, is there along with channels that serve much larger audiences — such as Aaj Tak or NDTV India. This means it has managed to get more people to watch Telugu news than other languages. In the Rs 700-crore (advertising) news broadcasting market, that is a big deal. The Rs 30 crore (approx.) ABCL will now test its mettle in many other national and international markets. It will invest about Rs 60 crore in the new domestic channels and Rs 200 crore in the African one. “Several private investors have expressed their interest. We also intend to go public in the next financial year,” says Prakash. Currently, 80 per cent of ABCL is held by iLabs (a venture fund) and Unified Group. Prakash and other five professionals hold the remaining 20 per cent.

...Swearing by the tagline ‘For A Better Society’, the channel takes up issues and concerns related to the common man. In fact, the channel was launched in February 2004 with a campaign highlighting how many villages lack access to safe drinking water in Andhra Pradesh. The campaign ran for six months. “All news bulletins started with this message for more than 15 days,”says Prakash. Subsequently, the state government acknowledged the magnitude of the problem and allocated Rs 125 crore to ensure safe drinking water supply for all villages.

“Currently, about 200 villages are covered and by next year, the problem would be entirely addressed,” he says. “We are not attacking the government. All we intend to do is expose the problem concerning the community and get them addressed.”

Arun Natarajan is the Founder of Venture Intelligence, the leading provider of information and networking services to the private equity and venture capital ecosystem in India. View free samples of Venture Intelligence newsletters and reports.