Five new channels will beam into Kerala homes soon, providing viewers more choices but crowding the television business in the state.
Currently, there are nine TV channels broadcasting in the state. Of these, Asianet, India Vision, People (Kairali) and Malayala Manorama are news channels.
The Indian Union Muslim League, an ally of the Congress- led United Democratic Front, announced the launch of its channel Thursday. 'A full-fledged satellite channel and a media city are expected to be ready in phases and it would be known as Channel IBC,' said IUML general secretary P.K. Kunhalikutty, a former industries minister.
Janapriya Communications, promoted by K. Muraleedharan, son of former chief minister K. Karunakaran, is also launching a channel.
Among other TV channels in the pipeline are the ones promoted by media organizations Kerala Kaumudi and Mathrubhumi and one headed by M.V. Nikesh Kumar, who was till recently with India Vision TV.
'All the papers are ready for us and we are just waiting for the opportune time to launch ours and we will certainly be live next year,' said an official attached to the Kerala Kaumudi TV, who did not wish to be identified.
Another big name doing the rounds in industry circles for some time is that of Capt Krishnan Nair of Leela Hotels, who is said to be interested in entering the broadcasting business.
Manorama TV, promoted by the Malayala Manorama newspaper, is coming out with a general entertainment channel next year.
Chennai-based Surya TV is expected to launch a news channel here next year.
'Let a thousand flowers bloom,' M.M. Hassan, senior Congress leader and managing director of the Jai Hind TV told IANS, reacting to the arrival of more channels.
'Look, we have now completed three years and we have surpassed the teething problems faced by start-up companies. In another two years we will break even and our next expansion plans is not going to be there till 2012, when a full fledged news channel would be launched,' said Hassan.
Others tell a different tale. Industry watchers say a relatively homogeneous, non-fragmented audience, lower costs of software production and socially relevant serials have so far translated into advantages. But that could change with more players in the fray with reveues dropping, triggering an eventual consolidation in the market.
'It is certainly a problem of plenty. The advertisement revenue for us is too little, unlike other big states,' Surya TV chief editor Roy Mathew told IANS.
'Distribution is soon going to be a problem and it remains to be seen how the cable operators would deal with this. And very soon it would be the age-old story of survival of the fittest.'
(Sanu George can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)