|Type||Cable television network|
|Availability||Indian sub-continent, China, South East Asia, Middle East, Europe, USA and the lower half of the former Soviet Union|
|Key people||STAR TV, Fox International Channels, Jupiter Entertainment|
Asianet Communications Limited (ACL) is an Indian media conglomerate jointly owned by STAR TV/Fox International Channels and Jupiter Entertainment. Formed in 1991 and headquartered in the city of Thiruvananthapuram in the south Indian state of Kerala, the company owns several television channels including Asianet, the first privately owned satellite channel broadcasting in the south Indian language of Malayalam.
The current joint venture company was formed in 2008, when the News Corporation-owned STAR TV/Fox International Channels became a majority shareholder in ACL. The company is headed by Malayalee entrepreneur Rajeev Chandrasekhar.
ACL's television channels reach the homes of Indians in over 60 countries worldwide including the Indian sub-continent, China, South East Asia, Middle East, Europe, USA and the lower half of the former Soviet Union.
ACL was originally incorporated as a private limited company named “Asianet Communications Private Limited” in New Delhi on March 5, 1991. The company began operations in 1991 with the promotion of Asianet, the group's flagship Malayalam language television channel . At the time, satellite television broadcasting in India was at its nascent stage. ACL undertook the cable distribution of the channel as its own wholly owned subsidiary, ensuring maximum coverage across Kerala.
Asianet commenced operations by the end of 1992 and started transmission by August 1993, at a time when the only Malayalam language television channel available was the government-owned Doordarshan. The channel had hired a transponder on the Russian Ekran satellite, with an up-link from the USSR. Later, the company hired a transponder on the Rimsat satellite, and shifted the up-link to Subic Bay in the Philippines and then to Manila. Initially, the transmission time was only three hours per day which was gradually increased to 12 hours per day by the end of 1994 and later to round the clock broadcasting. In early 1995, the uplink was shifted to Singapore where it attained full operational status. With a change in the broadcasting policies of the Government of India, Asianet started an up-link from Chennai through VSNL. From July 15, 2002, Asianet had its own earth station at the Asianet Studio Complex in Puliyarakonam, Thiruvananthapuram. Over the course of more than two decades of operations, Asianet has developed its own in-house production facilities and now has full-fledged production studios in Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi and Kozhikode.
In 2003, the franchise started a second channel 'Asianet Global' targeting the huge expatriate Malayalee population in the Middle East region. The channel was relaunched as Asianet News signifying an increased focus on news and current affairs in accordance with viewers' demands. On 23 July 2005 Asianet launched its third channel Asianet Plus, a complete entertainment channel. Recently, the franchise has started rolling out channels in other south Indian languages like Kannada (Asianet Suvarna) and Telugu (Asianet Sitara).
The registered office of the company was shifted to Chennai on December 3, 1997. ACL's majority share was then acquired by Jupiter Entertainment Ventures Private Limited. In 2008, the News Corporation-owned STAR TV/Fox International Channels became a majority shareholder in ACL.In July 2012, Asianet, launched Asianet Movies, the first Malayalam satellite TV movie channel.
Today, ACL employs more than 4000 personnel and its channels have a viewership of over 40 million, making it one of the largest media conglomerates in south India. Asianet, Asianet Suvarna , Asianet Movies and Asianet Plus are available in over 60 countries worldwide including the Indian sub-continent, China, South East Asia, Middle East, Europe, USA and the lower half of the former Soviet Union.
Asianet and its popularity
Asianet is ACL's flagship channel and is one of the most popular among Malayalam-language channels. Asianet is a general entertainment channel with programmes in a wide variety of genres including Malayalam-language movies, soaps, reality shows, talk shows, news programmes, travel shows and music-based shows. While programming is mainly targeted at family audiences, there are several programmes aimed towards specific target audiences such as shows for children, teenagers, young working professionals and elders. The channel also hosts and broadcasts the Asianet Film Awards and Asianet TV Awards.
Besides its large viewership base among Malayalam-speaking people in Kerala and other regions of India, Asianet enjoys huge popularity among Malayalee expatriate populations outside India, especially in the Middle East. Further catering to the region's huge Malayalee population, Asianet operates a Malayalam-language radio station "Asianet Radio 657 AM & 1269 AM" from the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The radio channel is also available in the neighbouring Arab countries of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.
The channel also broadcasts a successful musical talent reality contest - "Idea Star Singer". Sponsored by telecom company Idea Cellular, the show is one of the most popular shows of its type in south India ans is currently in its sixth season.
In June 2001, Asianet started airing its second channel Asianet Global which was later relaunched as Asianet News. Airing live news bulletins round the clock besides other news-based programmes, Asianet News was the first twenty-four hour news channel in the Malayalam language. Besides news centres in various cities across Kerala, the channel operates news bureaus in New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, the Middle East and USA. The channel also runs the website asianetnews.tv .
- Asianet Plus
The group's third channel Asianet Plus was launched in August 2005 and is a youth-oriented entertainment channel.
- Asianet Middle East
- Asianet Radio 657 AM & 1269 AM
Further catering to the region's huge Malayalee population, Asianet operates a radio station Asianet Radio 657 AM & 1269 AM from the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The radio channel is also available in the neighbouring Arab countries of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.
- Best FM 95
Currently available in the Trichur and Kannur districts of Kerala, Best FM 95 is ACL's Malayalam-language radio station in Kerala. Programming schedule and content is completely different from that of Asianet Radio 657 AM & 1269 AM.
Suvarna is ACL's Kannada-language channel, aimed at the Kannada-speaking population in the south Indian state of Karnataka and neighbouring regions. Launched with the tag line "24 carat manoranjane", the channel airs soap operas, talk shows, news programmes, and game shows. One of the most popular among its programmes is the Kannada version of the hit music talent show Idea Star Singer - "Confident Star Singer".
- Suvarna News
This is a Kannada language news channel broadcasting live news bulletins round the clock besides other news-based programmes
- Asianet Sitara
Sitara is ACL's Telugu-language channel, aimed at the Telugu-speaking population in the south Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and neighbouring regions. The channel was launched in October 2009 and is the newest member of ACL's television network.
- Sitara News
This is the first Malayalam language movie channel.
Subsidiaries and former group companies
Asianet Satellite Communications Limited (ASCL) owns the Asianet cable network, the group's cable channels (like Asianet Cable Vision) and the internet service provider Asianet Data Line. Though promoted as a cable distributor by ACL in 1992 as its wholly owned subsidiary, ASCL is not a part of ACL at present. In 1994, Asianet divested 50% of its holding in favour of Hathway Investments. In May 1999, the company decided to exit from ASCL and sold off its balance holding to Hathway Group.
Asianet FZ LLC, Dubai, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Asianet and owns a majority stake in Asianet USA LLC.
- "Star buys majority in Asianet; forms JV with Rajeev Chandrasekhar". Reuters. 17 November 2008.
- "Asianet to launch movie channel on July 15". Business Line. July 11, 2012.
- "Asianet to launch 24 hour movie channel". Business Standard. July 11, 2012.
- "Idea Star Singer '07 contest". Chennai, India: The HinduOnline. 24 March 2007.
- "Stars Of The Idea Star Singer". OneIndia.