Tamil Nadu has always been a movie-obsessed state, but now
the craze has extended to television.
This single state supports four Tamil-language satellite
channels, in addition to state-run broadcaster Doordarshan's local service. It is now
poised to watch another four satellite channels set to launch in the coming months.
Five-year-old entertainment channel Raj TV recently
launched a second channel, called Raj Plus. Vijay TV, recently bought by Mumbai-based TV
programming company UTV, relaunched on April 14 with a snazzier, younger look. Broadcaster
Sun TV recently debuted a Malayalam-language channel called Surya TV, and is now poised to
start its second Tamil channel.
Former actress turned chief minister Jayalalitha is trying
her luck with television again, and is planning a channel under the sobriquet of Jaya TV,
after her JJ channel failed three years ago. At the same time, young entrepreneur and
television personality Ravi Bernanrd aims to give News Corp.-owned Star News a run for its
money by starting a 24-hour Tamil-language news channel called Nila TV that's set to debut
Can a single southern state support so many free-to-air
channels? Rajeev Nambiar, vice president of marketing at Raj TV, said it can. He notes
that an advertising guide produced by ad company RJ Swamy indicates that the city of
Chennai has overtaken New Delhi as the country's No. 2 market, when ranked according to
the population's purchasing power. Only Mumbai ranks higher.
Despite such rationale, competition between the new
channels is intense. When Raj TV, one of the most popular channels, realized that rival
Sun TV was creating a new network, it responded with the creation of Raj Plus.
"We knew we were indulging in guerilla warfare by
being the first to come up with a second Tamil channel. But we have carried the warfare
into their camp by also snatching away some of their best producers and directors and that
has helped us create a tremendous impact with the public," Nambiar said.