Isn't it a trifle strange for an entertainment channel to air election news?
During 1997,Sony Entertainment Television did extremely well with its serials and other entertainment shows. One thing that was missing was news. We were looking for an opportunity. The elections gave it to us.
Will the '98 election coverage be a one-off foray?
No. Our long-term view is that news and current affairs are a must on the channel.
Vinod Dua and Mark Tully are anchoring your election programmes. Does that mean that Sony's talks with BBC have fallen through for good?
No, we haven't closed our options.
So will BBC's Hindi news be seen on Sony when it launches a news segment?
The feeling is gaining ground that we don't need anybody. We can do it in-house.
In that case, won't you need a full-fledged base in New Delhi?
Yes, we will. In two years, we intend to set up a base in Delhi, plus camera units in other parts of the country.
What are you doing for your ongoing election coverage?
We're using Vinod Dua's facilities, his network of correspondents and camera units.
Do you plan to launch a separate news channel in the near future?
No decision has been taken regarding news, but we're looking at the possibility of launching several new channels, including one devoted to movies and sports, another to Tamil-language programming.
What's holding them up?
We're waiting for the Broadcast Bill.
How will Sony's news and current affairs segment be different?
We will concentrate on issues of public interest, issues that get crowded out of other channels by hardcore political news.
Do you hope to generate substantial advertisement revenue from your election coverage?
Advertising is our only source of income. We will welcome sponsors but not at the expense of the service elements.