News Channel War: Captain News launched, SCV blocks Puthiya Thalaimurai

The fight between political parties in Tamil Nadu for supremacy entered a different phase on Wednesday with the blacking out of a round-the-clock news channel by a powerful cable TV group and the launching of Captain News, another news channel by Leader of Opposition Vijayakant.
Captain News

The DMDK leader, ‘Captain’ to his followers, already owns Captain TV, a general entertainment channel. But with the other news channels owing allegiance to parties like the AIADMK, DMK and PMK sidelining him in their news bulletins, Vijayakant felt the need of an exclusive news channel and thus was born Captain News, which will, in all probability, highlight the activities and ideologies, if any, of the DMDK.

With the addition of Captain News, Tamil Nadu can boast of 16 news channels, described by Peer Mohammed, a veteran journalist, as “a rare feat”. “We are the State with maximum number of vernacular news channels,” he told The Pioneer.

Captain News
But the channel business in Tamil Nadu took a curious turn last week with Sumangali Cable TV, owned by the family of former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran, blacking out the popular Puthiya Thalaimurai (New Generation), a round-the-clock news channel launched by the proprietors of the SRM University last year. Not without reason.

Till early last year, Sun TV, owned by the Maran family, was the undisputed leader in the channel business in Tamil Nadu. Sun News, their news channel, had topped the ratings and was the market leader for obvious reasons. It was the official organ of the DMK till 2007. But following the falling out of the Maran brothers with the Karunanidhi family, the DMK patriarch launched Kalaignar TV which soon assumed the role of the DMK’s mouthpiece. With the launch of Puthiya Thalamurai, Tamil viewers got the exposure to a professionally-run news channel and within months it topped the ratings.
Sun TV News
For the first time since its inception, Sun News was relegated to second position and has had to contend with its curtailed viewership ever since. With change of government in Tamil Nadu in 2011, Jaya TV owned by the AIADMK too started giving a scare to Sun News. Kalaignar TV got enmeshed in the 2G Spectrum scam and ended up as an also-ran.

“The Marans feel they could tame Puthiya Thalamurai by promoting Captain News and blacking us out from their distribution network. But our performance during the last one year has been recognised by the viewers and we will fight back in a sporting manner,” said a channel spokesman.

Nevertheless, how long the bonhomie between the Maran brothers and Vijayakant will last is anybody’s guess. The Marans can never promote Vijayakant at the expense of MK Stalin, the chosen heir to Karunanidhi. But the question doing the rounds is whether there is enough room in the Tamil TV industry for these many channels.
The Congress is well represented in the channel business with two channels Mega TV and Vasanth TV launched by two party leaders. “The CPI and the CPI-M are reportedly working to launch their own news channels in Tamil. It seems we are in for a major soundbite battle in Tamil Nadu,” said Nakulan Abhijit, a media executive with Kerala Kaumudi Group.
kalaignar seithigal
Tamil Nadu politics is an extension of the Tamil film world, with Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, DMK boss Karunanidhi, former CM MG Ramachandran and DMDK leader Vijayakant all owing their raison d’etre to filmdom. The TV news bulletins too resemble tinsel town with news bulletins resembling propaganda blitzkriegs.

True to the rivalry between the DMK and the AIADMK, the Sun News and the Jaya TV ignore each other. Activities of the AIADMK Government are ignored by the DMK channels while Jaya TV takes pains to highlight all development activities of the Government. Depending on the party in power at Fort Saint George, the Government headquarters, the channels get patronage and priority. Now the fortunes of Sun Network are on a southward trip while Jaya TV is on cloud nine.


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