Dr. Fakira Mohan Nahak

THE TELEVISION NEWS INDUSTRY IN ODISHA HAS GONE THROUGH A PROGRESSIVE JOURNEY IN THE PAST TWO DECADES. IN THIS SERIES DR. FAKIRA MOHAN NAHAK PRESENTS THE MEDIA HISTORY BLENDED WITH HIS CLOSE OBSERVATION ON THE FAST-CHANGING INDUSTRY.

ETV Odia was ruling the roost in the initial years of its broadcast. Being an infotainment channel, the entertainment programs, hourly news bulletins, Amari Odisha – the prime time news bulletin and the reality shows contributed immensely in bringing the channel closer to the people. It reached the peak of its popularity. All in all, the tagline that channel had at the start of its broadcast service, “ETV-Ama TV”, been largely proved worthy and fruitful. ETV became an integral part of the people. It was like Eat ETV, Drink ETV and Sleep ETV.

Mega serials like Mausi, Panatakani, Tulasi, Taasra Ghara, Bada Ghara Bada Gumara Katha etc. had captivated people. Every evening when the mega series was aired on TV, all the people left their work and sat in front of the TV. Most of the village streets did wear a deserted look. ETV’s popularity was mainly due to its quality programs and its diversity. It had something for the audience from all walks of life. The viewers could get information and entertainment according to their choice from the channel. Being the only private channel of the state, the only competitors ETV had were various national level Hindi and English channels.

However, in mid-2006, distribution became a major problem for ETV. Irrespective of high-quality programs, if the channel is not available in the TV set, how would people watch the channel? At that time, Ortel was a major distributor or cable operator in Odisha. The company Ortel Communications was mainly broadcasting various private channels broadcast in the state. One of the prominent cable channel OTV (Odisha Television Limited) was under this company. However, in the same year, OTV received permission for satellite broadcasting from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. On the other hand, ETV Odia became a pay channel from a free-to-air channel.

Due to lack of proper agreement between ETV and Ortel, one fine day, the most popular channel of the state suddenly blacked out. Ortel users were no longer able to view ETV. As Ortel started expanding beyond the borders of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack to other cities of the state, the number of its users got increased. So an increase in the prefixed carrier fees was bound to happen. But ETV was not ready to pay this increased amount. As a result, ETV was no longer available on cable. Viewers had to stay away from ETV. However in some parts of the state, there were other cable operators apart from Ortel that were making ETV available.

As ETV had already become an addiction for viewers and it was not available on Ortel, a large number of users started abandoning the services of Ortel and buying DTH. Tata Sky and Dish TV were the most popular DTH companies in late 2006. The sale of DTH services got skyrocketed in the state during that period. However, the satellite version of OTV was a big step to counter the growing demand and angst of the viewers. OTV, which has been working as a cable channel since 1997, started its broadcasting service as a satellite channel on December 2, 2006. The second private satellite television channel in the state was born.

In the early stages, it was not easy for the viewers of Odisha to distinguish between ETV and OTV. The then prominent faces of ETV started presenting in OTV. Amar Patnaik was the first one to join OTV leaving ETV News desk in 2006. After that, senior journalist Dayanidhi Dash (the then Chief Copy Editor of ETV News at Hyderabad desk), who had been the editor of OTV for a long time, did a home coming leaving ETV. Gradually Santosh Mohapatra, Ardhendu Das, Bharat Majhi, Mitrabhanu Nayak, Amaresh Biswal, Durgashishand others followed the trend.

In addition, the popular news castors of ETV Bibhuti Biswal and Mrunalakanti Nanda joined OTV as news anchors. So it was pretty obvious for the viewers to get confused finding the same anchors in two different channels in a short span of time. Later many employees of ETV joined OTV.

For any organization or institution to face hurdles at the initial stage is nothing new. OTV, as a satellite channel had its own share of challenges in its initial days. There were technical errors and editorial inexperience. But over time, OTV has made tremendous progress in its technical and editorial capabilities. As a result of which it has been on the top of the table in the state for many years without interruption. It would not be wrong to say that it is ahead of the other rival channels in terms of viewership, quality programming, news acceptability and style of delivery. Many things about the beginning of OTV and many events of that time will continue to be written in this series. In addition, we will also discuss about the launch and cancellation of other satellite channels in the state later.

(Dr. Fakira Mohan Nahak is a writer and former media professional. He is currently working as the Head of the Department of University Institute of Media Studies, Chandigarh University at Mohali, Punjab. Views are Personal)

Tags: #ETVIANs #TelevisionJourney #ETVOdia #OTVnews #OdishaTelevisions #Odianewschannels

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