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Amrita TV on air from April 14

Mata Amritananadamayi's infotainment channel in Malayalam from April

BY A CORRESPONDENT

7 April 2005: The tiny state of Kerala, where lungi-clad Malayalees on the streets have to duck every now and then to escape criss-crossing Malayalam TV channel signals, is getting yet another TV channel. Amrita TV goes on air on April 14, 2005. Already, God's own country's gentry have a choice of about 10 local language channels before them.

Unlike what we thought, Amrita Television is not managed by the Mata Amritananadamayi Mutt, a Rs 1,500-crore enterprise based in Kerala. Nor will it be a spiritual-religious channel on the lines of GOD channel, Miraclenet or Aastha. 

Amrita TV will be guided by the values professed by Amma - as Mata Amritananadamayi is affectionately called - but will be a general infotainment channel. Amrita Enterprises, which brings out the channel is a private company with Amma's devotees holding shares, with no majority stakeholder-promoter. Sudhakar Jayaram is the chief general manager of the TV channel. The company is starting up with a small Rs 8-cr investment. Initially, the programming will be in Malayalam. Later, Amrita TV hopes to branch out into other languages also, including Hindi.

Amrita TV says that the channel is expected to break even within two years. With Amma's values in mind, Amrita TV will keep a close watch on the content being aired, both edit and advertising. It says that Amrita TV will not accept any advertisements from liquor and cigarette companies.

What if the close watch on content leads to lower revenues? Amrita TV is not unduly worried. It feels that break-even will do for the company, and is confident of a smooth road ahead.

Mata Amritananadamayi is a renowned spiritual figure in Kerala, who has devotees from around the world. Hailing from a very poor low-caste family in Kerala, she rose to become a leading spiritual figure with the "magic hug". Amma's faithfuls claim that they are cured by the solace of her presence and warm hug. Among her admirers are people from across the faiths and classes. Many prominent politicians, businessmen, celebrities and professionals attest to her miracle powers.

Some of the more prominent names in the Malayalam media business currently associated with Amrita TV include filmmaker Shyamaprasad, graphics expert Percy Joseph and TV director Jude Attippetty. 

Amrita TV will be uplinked from the channelís own earth station. The station is capable of transmitting four channels at a time, the company says. It also has three studios.

BY A CORRESPONDENT

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