Hamara Samay to pump Rs 200 mn in channels

MUMBAI: The race for launching television channels in India continues… Hamara Samay TV News Network joins the likes of Prannoy Roy’s NDTV, Indrani and Peter Mukerjea’s INX and Anurradha Prasad’s BAG Films in announcing plans of new television channels. The company is looking at pumping in Rs 200 million (Rs 20 crores) to launch four channels.

Existing players in the Hindi movie channel space include Zee Cinema,Max, Star Gold, Filmy and B4U Movies. Whereas the English movie channel space has players like Star Movies, HBO, Pix, Zee Studio and Hallmark Channel.

Before the end of this calendar year, Hamara Samay TV News Network plans to launch an English movie channel – Jhankarr English, a Bhojpuri channel – Jhankarr Bhojpuri, a news channel – HS Life and News and an Islamic social welfare channel – ALIFF TV.

Earlier this year on 3 February, the company already launched a free-to-air (FTA) Hindi movie channel called Jhankarr Movies. Plans are afoot to make this into a pay channel from 1 May, 2007. "The price of the channel will be Rs 5. The boxes required for the same are already being readied," says Hamara Samay TV News Network chairman and managing director Zaheer Ahmed, while speaking exclusively to Businessofcinema.com.

Hamara Samay TV News Network already has a music channel under its belt called Lemon TV. The channel was earlier called Jhankar TV, which was launched in February 2004.

While Jhankarr English is targeting a September – October launch, ALIFF TV will be launched by the end of May this year. An official announcement regarding the same is expected to be made on 5 May, 2007.

When queried on the catalogue of films the company has under its belt for airing on the Hindi, English and Bhojpuri movie channels, Ahmed says, “We have the rights of close to 90 old Hindi movies from the ’70s to the ’90s. We are also in negotiations with some players to acquire the rights of 100 Tamil movies dubbed in Hindi. The deal is expected to close in a couple of days. As far as English movies to be aired on Jhankarr English, we are in the process of signing an agreement for 50 films. We will also be initiating talks with other players for acquiring movies. However, I cannot part with the details at this point in time."

Jhankarr Bhojpuri, on the other hand, will be India’s first ever Bhojpuri language channel, which will cater to the North Indian audience. The programming of the channel will include music, movies, lifestyle and entertainment shows.

Hamara Samay TV News Network has already received the uplinking and downlinking permission for ALIFF TV from the Information and Broadcasting ministry. The news channel HS Life and News will be based in Delhi. “We already have a 3000 – 4000 square feet studio set up in Delhi’s Vikas Marg, from where the news channel will operate," informs Ahmed.

The company has outsourced the exclusive marketing rights for all the channels to a company called Universal headed by Padmakar and to Celebrity Management headed by Prashant Chotani on a minimum guarantee (MG) basis for a period of three years. While Padmakar will handle the commercials and tele-shopping part, Chotani will handle film promos.

Ahmed also informed that plans were underway to launch a reality show on the lines of Indian Idol on Jhankarr Movies called Jhankarr Ke Sitare. “This show will be produced in-house. Beginning 20 May, the auditions for Jhankarr Ke Sitare will begin from Delhi and consequently to other Indian cities," he says.

Lemon TV, on the other hand, will soon have shows apart from music. “Shows on the channel will be outsourced to independent producers, whom we will charge anywhere between Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000 per episode as telecast fee. The FCT (free commercial time) will handled by the producers themselves and we will not be involved in the same," Ahmed says.