Hyderabad: Top Congress leaders in the state are suddenly evincing interest in gaining control over television channels. If PCC president Botcha Satyanarayana is already in talks to take over a channel, close associates of chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy are said to be engaged in a similar exercise. Quite a few Telugu channels are running in losses and one of them has already declared in an advertisement a shutdown of operations soon. Though the other struggling channels have not made public announcements as such, they are said to be on the lookout for a buyer.
Botcha, whose family has a stake in the cable TV business in many parts of the state, has opened a channel of communication with a channel belonging to a big group. But in this case, he would only be getting rights to the brand name for upwards of Rs 20 crore while the equipment will remain with the parent company which intends to utilize it elsewhere. In such an event, an equal or greater investment has to be made to put the infrastructure in place again.
Those close to the chief minister are, however, said to be eyeing a couple of other local channels that can bought, lock, stock and barrel. The investment is proposed to be made by a family member of a minister in the Kiran Kumar Reddy cabinet. In fact, they reportedly paid an advance to one channel through an MLC but backed out after realization that the brand did not have the valuation it claimed.
The stated purpose behind launching a channel, Botcha has reportedly told his aides, is the need for the Congress to have one of its own so that the party and government’s programmes can be effectively communicated to the people. To his surprise, he might now find those belonging to the chief minister’s camp doing the same or even upstaging him in what is seen as an effort to consolidate their position in the party.
Meanwhile, keeping in the front some “intellectuals” who will act as the face, the CPM is also busy giving final touches to its own channel while the CPI is expected to follow suit.