BY VEENA RAO
OAtlanta will soon be home to the first Indian-owned television network in the United States. White Knights Media Network, owned by Atlanta businessman P.I. Joy, will soon broadcast 12 digital channels and two analog channels from its Atlanta studios, a 4000 sq. ft facility at Suite108, 6000 Live Oak Parkway.
The programs will be broadcast from a top the Bank of America building in downtown Atlanta, the fifth tallest building in the US, said White Knights CEO Deepak Jayakumar.
The network will launch as J J N network early next year with three entertainment and two news channels, initially in the Atlanta area.
“We will then expand our coverage to Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Washington D.C.,” said Jayakumar.
A total of five mainstream channels and five Indian regional channels will be broadcast 24/7 and 365 days a year. The channels will include live news and weather forecast, and a live music channel.
“We will also have a Hindi channel and Tamil, Telugu, and Malayalam channels for the Indian community,” said Jayakumar.
White Knights has ambitious plans to launch Internet Protocol (IP) TV in August 2009, where programs can be streamed on computers, cell phones etc through an Internet connection. “We are in the process of finding the right mobile company to partner with,” said Jayakumar. He added that IP TV is the next generation of TV viewing, and is very popular in countries like France and Korea, where millions of subscribers watch television on their laptops or PDA. “It will soon become popular in the US,” he predicted.
The Atlanta studios of White Knight will have state-of-the-art equipment and is slated for completion in February 2009. The studios will have a newsroom and space for cultural and educational programs. Apart from tie-ups with popular Indian TV networks, White Knights plans to have live teleconferencing with VIPs, where a studio audience in Atlanta will interact live with a dignitary in India.
While some personnel with expertise in handling the digitized studio equipment will be hired from India, most of the staff will comprise of local talent. Major Atlanta events will be broadcast live, while events from around the US will also get prime airtime.
Unlike paid-for packages from Dish Network or DirectTV, the channels will be available to viewers free of charge. White Knight’s revenue model is based on advertisements and sponsorships.
“We will offer our advertisers packages where ads will be telecast across all the channels, and in all regional languages,” said Jayakumar.
White Knights owner P.I. Joy has a known penchant for getting into diverse businesses- from software to banking to hospitality to media. He thinks the time is right for a local television network.
“There is a huge market out there that is waiting to tap into the demand for Indian culture and Indian programs,” he said. “Also, we cannot express ourselves effectively as a community, unless we are represented by a strong media. I am certain our voice will now be heard, even in the capital.”
CEO Jayakumar has been with Joy’s group of businesses for over a year now. “Deepak has proved himself, first as Executive VP of Think Development and then in our hospitality business. I am confident that, with his efficiency and vision, he will take White Knights Network to great heights,” said Joy.