Bruce Springsteen wrote a sometime back, called 57 Channels (and nothing on!), and that fact has both everything and nothing to do with this post. Just talking to people from the big, bad world of television nowadays is quite frightening. Just adding up the things that one already knows, there will be another 30-odd channels by the end of the year. I mean, that is what I know about, and doesn't include the small players. Little wonder that both Tata-Sky and Dish TV have kept the channel numbering sequences open till 1000. In fact, the latter has support for more than 1000 channels. That said, the launch of DTH and the subsequent expansion of DTH thanks to Insat 4B there will be at least three more DTH players starting in the next three months. But, the problem now, less than two decades after DD launched DD Metro and we moved from a one-channel country to a two-channel country, at least in 'Metro' areas.
The costs of establishing a channel today are minimal, unless you discount the 'content' bit and since the same content often rotates - I've seen the same title on AXN, Star Movies and Zee Studio, and Star World and Zee Cafe often run the same show, but different seasons at the same time. But, what gets me is the proliferation of News channels - according to the grapevine there will be at least one major business channel launch soon from UTV (to be headed by Govindraj) and I've lost count of the number of channel that TV18 is planning, four new channels according to some (leaving alone the fact that they will probably start or acquire channels in the general entertainment space and are even planning a foray into print). Then of course, we have INX, which is planning at least two, maybe even three news channels.
I was talking to a Corporate Communications chap sometime ago and he was telling he how the headcount planning for press events is going crazy. Another person told me that this is a reason that I am seeing a huge increase in 'select press briefings' and traditionally fax-heavy PR agencies are not inviting everyone. "We don't want everyone and their uncle to come", one media-manager told me. Oh well, there has to be a plus working in a fairly well-established publication/news channel. Anyway, I'm still trying to figure out why so much TV?