News

Kashmir Strife Helps Indian News Channels

8/01/1999 8:00 PM Eastern

New Delhi, India -- India's news channels received a
major ratings boost during a recent spate of fighting between India and Pakistan in the
Kashmir region. But the established networks are likely to receive stiffer competition in
coming months, with the launch of new rivals aiming to capitalize on the upcoming national
elections.

Two 24-hour news channels, Zee News and Star News, saw
their ratings rise by almost 20 percent, according to market researcher Carat Media.

In contrast, state-run Doordarshan's DD1 service,
which runs six daily news bulletins, saw its ratings decline.

"The recent Kashmir conflict helped highlight
Doordarshan's limitations," conceded Indian Information and Broadcasting
Minister Pramod Mahajan, who oversees Doordarshan. "Zee News' broadcast in Hindi
created such an impact in Pakistan that I heard their prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, rang
up [Zee Telefilms chairman] Subash Chandra to complain that Zee News was being watched so
widely in Pakistan that it make short shrift of even PTV," Pakistan's
state-owned channel.

It's no wonder, then, that Doordarshan is among those
launching a news channel. Its DD News service is scheduled to bow on Aug. 15 along with
three other offerings – DD Movies, DD Culture and a revamped DD Sports.

Other news-channel contenders include new services from
Eenadu TV, Sun TV and Sahara TV. Eenadu senior manager Raghu Kidamber said the
company's news channel and a planned Bengali-language channel will launch in
September.

Sun TV CEO Sharad Kumar did not provide a launch date for
his news channel. "Every hour on a satellite news channel costs [$200,000]," he
said. "We must be confident of recovering costs before we start such an
enterprise."

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