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Will Marans’ Sun set after split?

The question being asked is: will the DMK employ the same tactics to undermine Sun TV that it used on its rival channels?, reports G C Shekhar.
None | By G C Shekhar, Chennai
UPDATED ON MAY 16, 2007 03:33 AM IST

The DMK and Sun TV empire, so far synonymous with each other, are now on opposite sides of the fence following the exit of Dayanidhi Maran from the Union Ministry. And the question being asked is: will the DMK employ the same tactics to undermine Sun TV that it used on its rival channels?

If yes, then state and central government advertisements being aired on the Sun Network could dry up. The spend of central government departments like BSNL, LIC and public sector oil companies could also diminish.

It may be recalled that when Raj TV had extensively covered Vaiko’s long march, it had found its live uplink facility cancelled. The explanation it got was that it had never got a licence for that. Jaya TV too has been battling to get its live uplink licence for its news channel Jaya Plus.

In spite of an obvious conflict of interest, the DMK fought and got the Communications Ministry for Maran in 2004. Now, by retaining the same, it can cause trouble for the Sun TV Group when it rolls out its DTH service in August.

Realising this, Sun TV owned by Maran’s brother Kalanidhi has already tapered down coverage of the Dinakaran incident, relegating the arrest of key accused Attack Pandi the bodyguard of M K Azahagiri’s son to the end of its news bulletin on Tuesday.

This is in sharp contrast to the first two days when it went to town with the outrage committed by “Azhagiri's rowdies” on the newspaper office over a poll carried by it. The violence had claimed three lives.

“Kalanidhi is a smart businessman who will do nothing to jepoardise his business interests. After he consolidated the cable distribution business with his company SCV between 1996 and 2001, many expected the next Jayalalitha government to undo his monopoly, especially after the manner in which Sun TV exaggerated M. Karunandihi’s midnight arrest in 2001. But SCV was not disturbed except when Jayalalitha unsuccessfully attempted a state takeover of the cable TV business,” said one media watcher.

The DMK too has lost a propaganda weapon in Sun TV. Since the AIADMK has Jaya TV and the PMK Makkal TV, it cannot afford to be unrepresented. For this, Raj TV has been wooed with exclusive coverage of Karunanidhi’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. There is also talk a DMK bigwig will take a huge stake in the channel.

For Sun TV, the delinking of the DMK tag could be a blessing in disguise as its news coverage can now acquire the much needed neutrality and credibility it lacked.

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