NDTV News Channels Ready To Roll With SET Alliance

New Delhi: | Updated: Feb 14 2003, 05:30am hrs
NDTVs news channels, one each in English and Hindi, would use the latest technology aimed at localisation, according to NDTV president Prannoy Roy. It is official now that the two NDTV channels (names not disclosed) will be distributed as part of One Alliancea Sony Entertainment Television (SET) and Discovery Networks joint venture. SET CEO Kunal Dasgupta and Discovery managing director Deepak Shourie announced the pact, for a duration of three years, at a press conference here on Thursday.

Both the channels are scheduled to be launched immediately after NDTVs contract with Star ends on March 31. Focusing on localisation initiatives, NDTV would deploy breakaway features, which are quite prominent in the US. For instance, with this feature in place, it would be possible for viewers in Delhi to cut across to local traffic and weather, while those in Chennai watch the national bulletin. Weather, traffic and local news are what the channels would offer in short blocks, as per local requirements, Dr Roy said.

Indicating full readiness to launch the channels, Dr Roy said that decoder boxes have begun being delivered to cable operators across the country. Currently, the reach of the One Alliance platform is 26 million cable homes in the country, and NDTV is expected to touch that number soon, Mr Dasgupta said.

Although NDTV channels would be digital and encrypted, to begin with there wont be any additional charge for them. However, over a period of time, the bouquet pricing would be revised, Mr Dasgupta said. Currently, the bouquet is available for Rs 55 per month per subscriber home.

The distribution pact with One Alliance does not prevent NDTV from continuing to make programmes for other channels, Dr Roy said. Currently, it offers content to BBC and Zee. As for content-sharing between Sony and NDTV, he said it would be limited to cross-promotion of channels. The distribution pact between One Alliance and NDTV is being seen as a significant development, because two news channels would be part of the bouquet now, a missing link so far.