Jaya TV and a few other rivals of Tamil television leader Sun TV are making a hitherto-unseen charge toward bagging the TV rights for big-ticket Tamil movies, for long the preserve of the Kalanithi Maran-owned Sun TV. This has not only opened up the market but also pushed up rates.
Jaya TV, the mouthpiece of the ruling AIADMK party and a distant rival to Sun TV, has virtually stirred up the market in the past few days by bagging two top titles. Last week, it acquired the rights for the upcoming Rajnikanth-starrer 'Kochadaiyaan.' On Monday, it bought another big-ticket movie--the upcoming Suriya-starrer 'Maatraan.'
The previous Rajnikanth movie, 'Endhiran,' was produced by Sun TV, which had then called it the costliest Indian movie ever made. Jaya TV was never known to indulge in the buying of TV rights, something that's a key part of Sun TV's content strategy. But KP Sunil, vice president of Jaya TV, said, that after a lull of six years the channel has started looking at Tamil movies aggressively. "We are looking are acquiring more such movies and it will be a mixture of big and small ones," he added.
The onslaught by Jaya TV and others comes after what has been a challenging year for Sun TV. Once she came to power last May, chief minister J Jayalalithaa floated a government-run cable service called Arasu to counter the ground distribution support that Sun TV enjoyed through another Maran-owned company. Cases were also filed against the then Sun TV COO Hansraj Saxena on charges of defrauding producers while purchasing movies for television.
Maran and his brother, former Textiles Minister Dayanidhi Maran, have been under the lens of the Central Bureau of Investigation on allegations that Aircel's former owner C Sivasankaran was arm-twisted to sell his company to Maxis founder T Anandakrishnan, who in turn invested in Kalanithi Maran's Sun DTH.
For those reasons, a challenge in the market for TV rights of movies has been expected for more than a year now. It's only now that Jaya TV is in "full swing," as a top official of a rival Tamil channel, wishing anonymity, put it. Executives at Sun TV and Star Vijay could not be reached for comment.