Asianet(മലയാളം:ഏഷ്യാനെറ്റ്) is an Indian general entertainment channel broadcasting in the south Indian language of Malayalam which is the official language of the Indian state of Kerala, Watch Asianet Live, and is also spoken in some regions of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and among Malayalee expatriates in the Middle East region. In terms of viewership, Asianet is often regarded as the most popular Malayalam-language television channel. Based in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, the channel is part of Asianet Communications Limited (ACL), a joint venture between the News Corporation-owned STAR TV/Fox International Channels and Jupiter Entertainment Ventures, an Indian company led by Rajeev Chandrasekhar. Asianet has atmost 50 programmes per day. Asianet was the first privately owned television channel in Malayalam and the second to broadcast in the language.
Asianet commenced operations by the end of 1992 and started transmission by August 1993, at a time when the only Malayalam-language television channel available was the government-owned Doordarshan. The channel had hired a transponder on the Russian Ekran satellite, with an uplink from the USSR. Later, the company hired a transponder on the Rimsat satellite, and shifted the uplink to Subic Bay in the Philippines and then to Manila. Initially, the transmission time was only three hours per day which was gradually increased to 12 hours per day by the end of 1994 and later to round the clock broadcasting. In early 1995, the uplink was shifted to Singapore where it attained full operational status. With a change in the broadcasting policies of the Government of India, Asianet started an uplink from Chennai through VSNL. From July 15, 2002, Asianet had its own earth station at the Asianet Studio Complex in Puliyarakonam, Thiruvananthapuram. Over the course of more than two decades of operations, Asianet has developed its own in-house production facilities and now has full-fledged production studio in Thiruvananthapuram
The registered office of Asianet Communications Limited was shifted to Chennai on December 3, 1997. ACL’s majority share was then acquired by Jupiter Entertainment Ventures Private Limited, owned by Rajeev Chandrashekar. In 2008, the News Corporation-owned STAR TV/Fox International Channels became a majority shareholder in ACL. In July 2012, Asianet, launched Asianet Movies, the first Malayalam satellite TV channel for movies.
Coverage, viewership and impact
Asianet reaches the homes of Malayalees in over 60 countries worldwide including the Indian sub-continent, China, South East Asia, Middle East, Europe, USA and the lower half of the former Soviet Union.
Besides its large viewership base among Malayalam-speaking people in Kerala and other regions of India, Asianet enjoys huge popularity among Malayalee expatriate populations outside India, especially in the Middle East. Further catering to the region’s huge Malayalee population, Asianet operates a radio station “Asianet Radio 657 AM & 1269 AM” from the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. The radio channel is also available in the neighbouring Arab countries of Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain.
Brand identity and signature song
The channel name Asianet was a product of its founder K. Sasikumar. The unique blue and pink logo was designed by acclaimed Indian graphic designer Suchatha Keshavan and is one of the most recognizable brand identities in the television broadcasting field in south India. The current logo is red and white.
The signature song of Asianet, “Shyama Sundara Kera Kedara Bhoomi” is one of the most famous Malayalam songs. Made in 1994, and originally airing in early years of the channel in the mid-90s, the song was written by renowned Malayalam poet P. Bhaskaran, composed by two-time Academy Award-winning Indian composer A. R. Rahman (who at the time, was just at the beginning of his career and was relatively unknown) and sung by Sujatha and Kalyani Menon. The video for the song is a collage of the various tokens of ethnic, cultural and traditional heritage belonging to Malayalees, set against a backdrop of the beautiful natural sights and landscapes of Kerala. Initially airing in the late 90s, the video quickly became an immediately recognizable symbol of Malayalee culture and a long-standing emblem for Asianet.
Programming and shows
Asianet is a general entertainment channel with programmes in a wide variety of genres including Malayalam-language movies, soaps, reality shows, talk shows, news programmes, travel shows and music-based shows. While programming is mainly targeted at family audiences, there are several programmes aimed towards specific audiences such as shows for children, teenagers, young working professionals and elders.
The channel also broadcasts a successful musical talent reality contest – Idea Star Singer. Sponsored by telecom company Idea Cellular, the show is one of the most popular shows of its type in south India and is currently in its sixth season.
Asianet Film Awards
The Asianet Film Awards were instituted by Asianet to honour both artistic and technical excellence in the Malayalam film industry. Held and broadcasted annually since 1998, the ceremony has gained in popularity over the years and is currently one of the most-watched award ceremonies in Kerala.
Subsidiaries and Former Group Companies
Asianet Satellite Communications Limited (ASCL) owns the Asianet cable network, the group’s cable channels (like Asianet Cable Vision) and the internet service provider Asianet Data Line. Though promoted as a cable distributor by ACL in 1992 as its wholly owned subsidiary, ASCL is not a part of ACL at present. In 1994, Asianet divested 50% of its holding in favour of Hathway Investments. In May 1999, the company decided to exit from ASCL and sold off its balance 50% holding to Hathway Group.
Asianet FZ LLC, Dubai, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Asianet and owns a majority stake in Asianet USA LLC.