Dr. Fakira Mohan Nahak


Until early 2009, there was no dedicated 24×7 News Channel in Odisha. ETV Odia and OTV, the two established and popular private satellite channels of the state at that time were infotainment channels. However the news segment of both the channels was quite popular among the viewers. Keeping in mind the growing popularity and craze for news broadcast and consumption, the 1st first private satellite 24×7 news channel, Naxatra News was born on 28th February 2009.

Naxatra News was launched by NK Media Ventures Pvt Ltd, under the direct patronage of renowned industrialist and educationist, engineer PrabhatRanjanMallik. The broadcast service was started from the head office of Naxatra News Channel at IRC Village, Nayapali, Bhubaneswar. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and the then MP Pyarimohan Mohapatra attended as chief guests and inaugurated the channel and dedicated it to the public. Its founding editor was senior journalist Ashok Mohapatra.

Before the channel started broadcasting, its CEO was Ratikant Satapathy. But by the time it went on air, Pratap Aditya Mishra had already taken over the role. NagenBarik, a well-known name in the Odia film industry, had been working as the Channel Advisor for Naxatra News since its inception.

The channel had a total of 84 employees at its inception. As usual, ETV was one of the prime sources of experienced professionals for the channel. A large number of ETV Odia employees joined Naxatra News as part of its editorial and reporting team.

Keeping in mind the resource pool of ETV and Hyderabad being the head office of ETV News Network, Editor Ashok Mohapatra went to Hyderabad, to start the recruitment process, before the start of the broadcast service in February 2009. As the whole editorial team of ETV was working there and it was not possible for everyone to come to Odisha on leave and interview for the job opportunity in Naxatra News, it was in Hyderabad that the editor offered the new job opportunity. Similarly, some editorial and reporting team members were recruited from the Bhubaneswar bureau of ETV.

In the first phase, Bhudeep Mohanty, Jaydev Behera, Ashok Sahu, Biswajit Sahu, Premananda Das, Sabyasachi Amitabh, Narsingh Rao and Rutu Tahal from ETV joined the new channel. While Sharat Mishra Bharadwaj was the input editor,Bhudeep Mohanty was assisting him in the early stages of the channel. Similarly, Premananda Das was the Output Editor while Sabyasachi Amitabh was assisting him. Another talented and young journalist Nihar Ranjan Parhihari joined the editorial team.

The most important part of Naxatra News was its technical set up. It is the first channel of the state to have the newsroom automation facility. The channel used FORK AUTOMATION for the newsroom and WASP 3D for online graphics. The international news agency APTN (Associated Press Television News) was integrated with the newsroom so that the information and pictures of events happening at the international level could be available simultaneously in the newsroom. As an Odia channel, this news agency was only available to ETV Odia at that time. With so many technical arrangements, the look and feel of Naxatra News was at par with the established national channels at that time. The television screen seemed very dynamic and alive.

Not only that, the channel produced so many promos in the initial stages that caught the attention of the people of the entire state. All the promos were produced under the direct supervision of its first editor, Ashok Mohapatra, who is known to be a very creative personality. At that time, the channel authorities gave the responsibility of designing and establishing the channel to Shyam Salvi, a consultant based in Delhi. So it was him who made the channel technically fully functional.

It was evident form the Newsroom, Production Control Room (PCR), Master Control Room (MCR) set up that the new 24×7 channel is a well-planned and executed effort. ETV’s Narsingh Rao and Rutu Tahal joined the channel to shoulder the responsibility of panel production. In addition, Gyanaranjan Padhihari and Gyanaranjan Dhal, who were working in Delhi at that time, also joined the team.

Similarly, Durgaprasad Acharya and Purnedu Patnaik were in charge of the current affairs. Durgaprasad had by then acted in some serials aired on ETV Odia as well as worked as a TV show director. Accordingly PurnenduPatnaik was working in the programming team of ETV.

At that time, Naxatra News was not only the first 24-hour news channel in the state but also launched as a multilingual news channel. Attracting audiences outside the state as well as keeping an eye on the needs of non-Odia audiences in the state, such a step was taken by the channel.

The channel also launched special bulletins in Sambalpuri dialect, Hindi and English Bulletins along with Odia News. Brahma Mohanty and ShwetaparnaMohantywere prominently working in the English news team.

The first 24-hour news channel of the state, Naxatra News has been continuing its broadcasting service for more than thirteen years. But in the meantime, the channel has to go through many obstacles. Different journalists have joined the channel as Chief Editor and tried their best to manage it at different times. We will continue to discuss the challenges faced by different Chief Editors and many popular programs that were part of the channel in the next part.

(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: #OdishaTVhistory #Odianews #TVJourney #TVMedia #MediaHistory #NaxatraNews