Congress turns broadcaster

IN Media Practice | 30/04/2007
On May 1 defence minister A K Antony will inaugurate the studio complex of a Congress-backed Malayalam channel.

Indo-Asian News Service

Two firms promoted by non-resident Keralites will form the financial backbone of the Congress-supported Malayalam TV channel Jai Hind TV, which will go on air in July.

?The channel will be a joint venture between two companies, Bharath Broadcasting Network (BBN) and Jai Hind Communications (JHC) and Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president Ramesh Chennithala would be the president of the venture. The Congress party would have considerable stakes in the channel,? M.M. Hassan, former Congress minister and board director of the new channel, told reporters here Saturday.

The project was cleared at a Congress meeting here Wednesday when all doubts raised by party members were cleared.

?The day-to-day administration of the channel will be run by a board of three non-resident Keralite businessmen, including two Dubai-based businessmen - BBN chief Aniyankutty, JHC chief Vijyan Thomas, Doha-based Kerala businessman C.K. Menon, Kochi-based E.M. Babu, Chennai-based Regi Abraham, and me,? Hassan had clarified.

While countering criticism that the Congress had opposed the launch of Kairali TV, backed by the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), Hassan said: Yes, we opposed the manner in which they misused the powers of the government to raise money, but we were never against them starting the channel.?

Jai Hind TV will be the eighth full-fledged Malayalam channel. It, however, remains to be seen if it would be a successful business proposition for the Congress party, which is entering into such a venture for the first time.

?The funds for the channel would be raised from the public because for political parties, the only option is to approach the people. The All India Congress Committee is giving us all the moral support,? said Hassan.

On May 1, Defence Minister A.K. Antony is scheduled to lay the foundation stone of the proposed studio complex at the Kinfra Film and Video Park on the outskirts of the capital.

Kerala Education Minister M.A. Baby is likely to inaugurate the studio complex the same day and ace film director Adoor Gopalakrishnan will officially release the channel`s logo.

The total project cost is pegged at Rs.500 million and the initial required sum of Rs.100 million has already come in due to the NRK funding.

The delay in the launch of the channel was reportedly due to differences in the party on the role of the two Dubai-based businessmen in the channel.

While a section of the Congress party leaders wanted total control of the channel, others favoured the entry of the cash-rich businessmen for pumping in the initial capital. 

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