The Tamil Nadu unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is planning to launch a television channel in the state. It is being said that the existing right-of-centre Malayalam television channel, Janam TV, will be asked to start operations in Tamil Nadu.
According to party sources, quoted by the Indian Express, the idea is to ensure comprehensive coverage for state president K Annamalai's padayatra that would start in April and to provide a vernacular alternative to the dominant Dravidian media ecosystem in Tamil Nadu.
The cost of setting up the channel has been estimated as Rs 15 crore and it would be met using resources of the party as well as that of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
According to political commentators, Janam TV had come as a breath of fresh air in the Left-dominated media space in Kerala. It rose in popularity during the protests against the Supreme Court judgement allowing the entry of women of menstruating age into Sabarimala.
In a short while, it leapfrogged established channels like Mathrubhumi News and Manorama News.
Political parties owning television channels is not new in Tamil Nadu. Karunanidhi's family owns Kalaignar TV and their relatives, i.e., the Marans own Sun TV. The AIADMK owns Jaya TV. Among the smaller parties, the Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) owns Makkal TV and the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) of Thirumavalavan owns Velicham TV.
Annamalai has time and again attacked Tamil media for their biased coverage. He has said that many of them are pleasing the ruling Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) because they depend on government advertisements that come through the Directorate of Public Relations (DIPR).
He had said that a look at the DIPR's payouts (which are available publicly) would make it clear to anyone that those media houses which gave better coverage to the DMK, used to get more of the advertisements irrespective of the size of the channel or newspaper.
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