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Kalanithi Maran's Sun News battles to retain lost crown


Kalanithi Maran's Sun News battles to retain lost crown

CHENNAI: After 11 years of leadership among Tamil TV news channels, Kalanithi Maran's Sun News is suddenly on shaky territory. Viewership numbers by TAM Media Research for the first two weeks of January show Sun News had been relegated to the No 3 slot.

In the third week, it was tied for the second spot, and it was only last week when it was a decisive No 2. It was in late October last year that newbie Puthiya Thalaimurai beat Sun News, the first time ever the latter has shed the top slot even for a week. Since then, it has been a see-saw battle for leadership.

Now, while Puthiya Thalaimurai is No 1, what could have shocked Sun News for most of January is even the No 2 slot was taken away from it by Jaya Plus, which belongs to long-time rival Jaya TV. Never until now has any of the Jaya TV channels come even close to Sun TV's channels in viewership.

One of the reasons for the change of fortunes for Sun News is the initiative of the state government to start its own cable service, called Arasu, to counter the on-ground cable distribution strength that Maran has with the Sumangali cable distributions service.

Arasu claims membership of almost all cable operators in all areas of Tamil Nadu where it launched. The Sun slew of channels isn't yet part of Arasu.

But while the eponymous general entertainment channel Sun TV is being shown on the sly by cable operators, as it enjoys a two-thirds share, the rest of its channels might not enjoy similar visibility in Arasu's areas. Jaya Plus might also enjoy more visibility than the pre-Arasu days.

"With Arasu cable coming in there has been a tremendous distribution correction in the last two months," said a Chennai-based media industry official, on the condition of anonymity. GV Vijayakumar, associate vice-president, Lintas Media Group-Chennai, pointed out programming as one of the other reasons.

"In the last few months, Puthiya Thalaimurai has shown good numbers because of their news format and variety. Sun News is still following its traditional roots." Sun's fortunes in other genres such as general entertainment and music, where it is still the leader, depends on the fate of its negotiations with Arasu.

A media planner said the spike in interest in Jaya Plus could also be a result of the viewer interest surging after Jayalalithaa expelled her close confidante Sasikala.

Jaya TV, of which Jaya Plus is a part, is seen as a mouthpiece of the AIADMK party. Sun TV and Jaya TV officials couldn't be reached for comments. As far as media buying interest goes, the battle is still only between Puthiya Thalaimurai and Sun TV, said a media planner.

Punitha Arumugam, Group CEO, Madison Media Group, however, pointed to the relative insignificance of news channels in Tamil Nadu. "People who want to watch news watch it on Sun TV or Jaya TV (general entertainment channels). These channels telecast news thrice a day." She said, "News as a genre is not significant and not successful. The fluctuations for channels losing grip could be the cable war that happening in the State."

News from : Economic Times

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