Though electronic media has underwent a humongous growth at the national level, the growth of electronic media in Tamil Nadu is rather timid. While the national media is backed by corporate giants electronic media in Tamil Nadu still remains as the mouthpiece of Kazhagam's and Katchi's. The cable revolution introduced Sun TV in Tamil Nadu with the strong backing of DMK party and its leader Karunanidhi. The growth of Sun TV almost killed Doordarshan. Sun TV saw a phenomenal growth in the early nineties acting almost as the only opposition party in the State whenever the AIADMK is in power.
Jayalalitha who understood the potential of the cable phenomenon started JJ TV to counter the onslaught of Maran's owned Sun TV. The subsequent entry by liquor baron Vijay Mallaya with the channel ‘GEC’ failed to take off due to the shrewd political maneuvers by the KD brothers.
Now the entry of ‘Pudhiya Thalaimurai’ TV of the SRM group has raised hopes that a non-political news channel is in the offing. But alas ! SRM Group's new channel has turned out to be a monotonous news channel without any focus neither political nor social. Sources in the media say Srinivasan who was in Aaj Tak/Headlines Today had quit the national media with the belief that at last there is a non-political channel with editorial liberty in Tamil Nadu. But grapevine has it...that the SRM management has made the channel to do a volte face in the matter of Koodankulam nuclear plant issue. The channel which was vociferous in its coverage and support to the agitators has done a somersault and is found actively canvassing FOR the nuclear plant which has agitated the anti-nuclear activists in the State.
Pudhiya Thalaimurai is in search of good journalists with a better and different news perspective which they find it hard and when it comes to perspective alone the chances of their desperate search becomes bleak . Though the channel is offering far better salaries than others in the industry, good talent is hard to find say sources. Due to these difficulties the channel appears to be struggling to focus both politically and socially...which is considered to be the need of the hour by many.
Whether the Pudhiya Thalaimurai channel is running with focus or not, it has rattled the administration of Sun TV big time. Sun TV has a history of paying a pittance to its employees and treat them like bonded labrours and . Media sources say the staff of Sun TV used to be abused in filthy language by the management. Barring a few, Sun TV reporters would never be shown on camera as the management felt that no reporter should get popular which would result in demanding higher pay. Nervous about the patters of news in Pudhiya Thalaimurai sources say Kalanithi Maran had pulled up Raja, news editor of Sun TV and instructed to pull up the socks and make drastic changes. Within a couple of days of Pudhiya Thalaimurai going on air, Sun News saw dramatic changes and that too overnight.
Makkal TV which claims as a neutral channel...as things changed it became yet another mouth piece of Pattali Makkal Katchi. The channel is now witnessing a cash crunch following the expiry of tenure of Rajya Sabha MP seat of ‘Doctor Chinna Ayya’ Anbumani. Anbumani who was milking the cash cow viz. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare was not able to pump in funds as he use to be...now things have changed and now running Makkal TV has become a prestige issue for Dr.Ramadoss. Sowmya Anbumani who was managing the affairs of the channel seems to have lost interest say sources. Due to the cash crunch many employees of Makkal TV were in the process of jumping out of the ship and joining Pudhiya Thalaimurai. Whispers in Journalistic circles is that PMK founder and Makkal TV "GOD FATHER" Dr.Ramadoss had personally spoken to Pachamuthu, of the SRM group not to hire anyone from makkal TV.
NDTV HINDU : The only English channel, a joint venture between NDTV and The Hindu that had raised hopes when it was launched the State, is becoming a history. At the time of its launch Senior Journalist Jeniffer Arul, was placed in charge. Subsequently she was sidelined and the mantle was handed over to Sanjay Pinto . Sources say Sanjay Pinto's attempts to make this channel a dynamic one did not take off and it became stale without any sting in the news. In fact, insiders from the channel add that Sanjay Pinto himself had encouraged many of the channel’s staff members to quit the channel. Under the administration of Sanjay Pinto, NDTV HINDU suffered heavy losses and The Hindu management, which is already reeling under infighting, decided to call it quits.
Dr.Jawahar Palaniappan who is on a war path with his former partner Varadharajan over ownership issues, had shown some interest in taking over the channel but the efforts were not fruitful.
Finally Daily Thanthi Group has taken over the management of NDTV HINDU and has decided to run the channel with 60-80 % Tamil content and 20-30% English content. This process has just begun...one will have to wait and see the channel that promised "Nothing but Truth" will have at least have this tag under the new ownership...Since it has been taken over by Daily Thanthi group...the whispers doing rounds among journalistic circles is that one cannot expect anything more...but many are happy that they can see Daily Thanthi paper visually instead of reading it.
The dearth of quality news channels in Tamil can be attributed to the iron hold of the KD brothers in the cable industry...
Unlike the national scenario where the English channels like (which have their own AGENDA), Times Now, CNN IBN, NDTV, Headlines Today and News X who compete (and always go overboard) in the world of BREAKING NEWS, channels in Tamil Nadu compete with each other to give one sided stories to suit their needs and to keep Kazhagam's and Katchi's in good humour.
Looks like the expectation of an unbiased local news channel in the state will rather be a dream forever.