Monday, December 13, 2010

Finally Sahara group's Urdu news channel launched in India

After years of wait, a standard 24/7 Urdu news channel has been launched in India. The Sahara group's channel Alami Sahara that has made its debut recently and is now on air, has been launched almost 10 years after Ramoji Rao's ETV Urdu.

While ETV was a complete infotainment channel, Sahara is a dedicated news channel. I have been watching Alami Sahara for the last few days and it seems to have filled the void in Urdu broadcast media in India. The standard and presentation of its news and current affairs programmes gives it a clear edge.

The selection of guests for panel discussions is done quite professionally. News stories and special stories are also quite different and watchable. Currently the special programmes on Muharram are being telecast and they are certainly made painstakingly.

Your cable operator may not be showing it yet, but there are a few websites where you can see it live and free. While ETV Urdu is in a different league, DD Urdu is not shown in most parts of the country just like other DD channels which are ignored by cable-walas. 

The latest channel Zee Salam [launched a few months back] is more focused on religion and cultural aspects. However, Alami Sahara which is the fourth national Urdu TV channel in the country, focuses mostly on news and current affairs. The news bulletin is broadcast every hour like other news channels. 

The pace at which Sahara group's Urdu empire is growing has been surprising as it has overtaken Rashtriya Sahara Hindi newspaper in terms of number of editions as well as circulation.

 To a section it is worrying how one group commands such strong readership & influence among Indian Muslims due to its newspaper, Urdu weekly, monthly Bazm-e-Sahara & now the first nonstop Urdu news channel from India.

Sahara has broken new grounds in Urdu media in India. It has been an unbelievable journey, especially when most established publication groups including Shama Group, Biswin Sadi and Blitz left the field, claiming lack of readership and purchasing power among Urdu speakers.

Clearly there is a market for Urdu publications and channels, provided, the product is good and the publishers must stop treating the Urdu reader as a ghettoised man who only wants to read or watch about Palestine or minority politics. The success of Roznama Sahara and The Sunday Indian's Urdu version have proved it.

The channel had been 'soft-launched' without much publicity but it is grabbing eyeballs. The pronunciation or what we often call 'sheen-qaaf' is good. Hyderabad's Munsif group is also ready with its channel but Sahara has clearly taken the lead.

[*Alami means International in Urdu]