ABC’s Hiru TV gears to shake up the television industry

Thursday, 22 March 2012 00:07 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By Cassandra Mascarenhas

Asia Broadcasting Corporation Chairman Rayynor Silva confidently promised that the network’s first television channel Hiru TV will shake up the television industry in Sri Lanka, uplifting standards and setting the bar of expectations of the viewers of television in Sri Lanka.

Scheduled to be launched on 3 May, the television channel will be one of the largest television channels in the country and is in fact the largest investment made to set up a channel in the history of television in Sri Lanka.

“If anyone wants to survive in this industry in the current context, they can’t just be a radio station; they have to be an entertainment company. I believe in being with the people, the listener, being a part of the entertainment calendar,” he stated.

“We have now decided to go into television and when we do, it’s going to be a totally different approach. We will set standards in the industry. We have done it in the past; anything ABC does the expectations of the listener and the public is very high. They expect a top event or top class entertainment act. Today, we are setting up one of the largest television channels in the history of Sri Lanka.”

Hiru FM will be based on the model adopted by the Indian TV channel Colors, a brand which according to Silva has turned the Indian television industry upside down, hitting the number one spot with India having over a 100 television channels. This theory of coming to the market with the best product, coverage, quality and programming is a huge investment and a huge risk but that’s what it takes to be different, he added.

He went on to say that ABC in undertaking this venture has acquired the best from studios to transmission. The main office will be situated in the World Trade Centre, with two offices located elsewhere and five studios from the first day itself. This will also be the first HD ready and digital ready television channel with 95 per cent coverage of the country. “We have given a lot of emphasis to coverage and will be on all cable networks as well and will cover the entire island including the North and East.”

Along with promising to have the best in coverage, Hiru TV will be set up by the team that set up Star World setting up with transmission from Germany, which Silva assured, is the best in the industry.

“If you look at the entire industry, everybody who came in to this market, came in and then kept adding things. No one came up with a full product – everyone came up with a half-baked product and then went on to make additions. We are going to change the entire approach of setting up companies and coming up with an entertainment brand. We are going to have fully fledged operations in terms of coverage, quality and most importantly, programming. You will see us lift not only the standard of the industry; we will set standards and set the bar of expectations of the viewer of television channels.”

When asked as to why ABC chose to venture into television at this time, he frankly said that it is because the corporation, with all its brands having hit number one spots and a substantial listenership, is now ready for television. Planning on targeting the masses with this television channel, Silva described the personality of the channel as dynamic, youthful, with a lot of respect to elders, culture and tradition whilst embracing new technology and new standards of entertainment.

“It will do well,” he stated with absolute confidence when questioned about having to compete with more established brands in the market. “The existing channels are like brothers and sisters. You switch from one channel to another, it’s the same thing. Viewers want something different. There is currently no variety given; it’s about each other just putting out low-quality entertainment, about how cheap you can get and how cheaply you can get away with it.”

He asserted that he plans on changing that attitude with Hiru TV as he did with radio. “I’m going to change that attitude. In fact, I changed it with radio. When I started radio, people told me that it couldn’t be segmented, that the market is too small to segment and the same people two or three years down the line followed me and the same thing will happen with television.”

“ABC is known for lifting the standards of the industry. In radio whether English, Sinhala or Tamil, we have been the most listened to channel, the innovators, the one to lift the standards and the bar of broadcasting in Sri Lanka,” noted Silva.

Listing out the corporation’s accomplishments over the years, he pointed out that ABC started Sooriyan FM, the first ever Tamil private channel in Sri Lanka; Gold FM, the first ever English 70s radio station and number one English channel, Shaa FM, the first youth channel; Hiru FM, the most rated Sinhala channel Hiru FM as well as their other radio channel, Sun FM.

Silva added that in the industry, ABC is the biggest in radio broadcasting and entertainment and has taken the industry beyond purely radio to a more entertainment industry atmosphere.