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By God! Channel war hots up

By God! Channel war hots up

Author: Ramesh Babu
Publication: The Hindustan Times
Date: May 7, 2002

God's very own country soon is going to be the scene of a channel war in the name of God. While the church is launching a Malayalam TV channel, the Muslim community will have one of its own. The church's channel, Jeevan, will be on air in two months and the Muslim League-supported India Vision is in its final stages.

A Hindu charitable outfit, Matha Amruthanandha-mai, is also said to be rooting for a channel for itself though a spokesman denies it. Though the Marxists have burnt a good amount of money in their Kairali channel, the newcomers are unfazed. "There is still a lot of potential to be tapped," remarked a Jeevan executive.

While viewers are happy that they will soon get more value for their cable money, a section of the intelligentsia is not happy.

"In Gujarat we are suffering from mixing politics with religion," a leading Left thinker pointed out. "Today they start channels in the name of religion and tomorrow there will be even caste-based TV. Such channels could vitiate the fragile communal fabric."

But officials of Jeevan and India Vision dismiss such criticism, saying the new channels are "commercial organisations and not religious bodies." Though both swear that religion will not play any role in their channels, the intelligentsia sees it as an eyewash.

"Since both are spending crores of rupees how can you say they will be above religion?" a writer said.

What type of progrmmes will they dish out? "Our TV will focus on information and education without ignoring entertainment. But entertainment will not compromise on moral values," Thrissur Bishop and chairman of Jeevan TV Mar Jacob Thomakuzhi said.

Agreed another official of the India Vision: "MTV-type 'Grind' or Fashion TV bare-all programmes will not find any place."

They argue that such fears are unfounded. "The two communities own more than half of Kerala's educational institutions where all are equal."

The two communities have indeed floated public limited companies. Jeeven Telecasting Corporation Ltd has 6,000 shareholders with an initial investment of Rs 25 crore. Producers and programmers are open to the new channels. "We never experienced any interference."

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