Dubai: The Indian media group, Madhyamam Broadcasting ltd., is launching a second TV channel — the Malayalam language MediaOne Gulf from April 24 — targeted at building its viewership and advertising numbers in this region.

Non-resident Indians from the southern Indian state of Kerala make up 60 per cent of the shareholder base at the group, which also publishes the influential daily Madhyamam.

“Unlike what the competition does, MediaOne Gulf is not about creating a second channel and using the same content that our viewers in India get to see but on a different time slot,” said Dr. Abdussalam Ahmad, Managing Director at MediaOne TV. “The new channel will have up to 40 per cent of the programming sourcing done from within this market.”

The flagship channel, MediaOne Gulf, which was launched in January 2013, will continue to be available for a Gulf viewership, but the content mix will be changed to include more of news and news-based programming. According to Ahmad, that would represent up to 40 per cent of the overall mix, “while for MediaOne Gulf, the intention is to build up into general entertainment channel with a committed following, much the same way this was done with Madhyamam.

“Also, the new channel’s focus will not be on broadcasting films — what we have seen is that buying satellite rights for new film releases are substantial and are not yielding the same returns as they used to. Instead, our focus will be on cinema-based programming, which continue to be popular with core audiences.”

Creating a second channel opens up further possibilities for the group. Already, a significant share of the advertising dollars — 30-35 per cent — are sourced from the Gulf. But there are around 10 Malayalam language channels that are also in the fray for the same, plus the myriad other Indian language channels.

“Even with such intense competition, I think there is still space for a new channel from our group,” said Ahmad. The first channel entailed a capital expenditure of Rs600 million and is looking at breakeven over a five-year period, which is the industry norm. The cost included setting up a broadcasting centre in Kerala. For the second channel, the operating costs would be between Rs200 million to Rs250 million, the official said.

Meanwhile, the group is simultaneously tapping new shareholders from the UAE and the Gulf to come into the board of directors. The upper limit of the new shareholder funding has been capped at Rs50 million apiece.