Over the years, local cable channels have gained traction with the local audiences by beaming events from temple festivals to talent contests. In some recent cases, they organised functions to felicitate winners from their districts in popular satellite TV talent shows.
“People love to see themselves or those from their immediate surroundings,” says S.Balasubramanian who runs a channel named ‘UTV’ in Tiruchi. “We can provide that immediacy and interest that bigger channels cannot.”
Setting up the local channels with a transmission room and some basic paraphernalia could cost anything between Rs.10 to Rs.20 lakh, according to P. Manikandan, who runs a channel in Dindigul district.
The owners of the cable channels are popular in their areas of operations, often taking pride in organising events and positioning themselves as entrepreneurs. The names of the channels are also exotic and colourful: from Zen TV to Raja TV to Jeyam TV to Media TV.
Since the government has asked them not to run news, most of the programming is non-political. Often special importance is given to local temple festivals and events, like the bull-taming ‘Jallikattu’.