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Feature: Reach for the sky

Feature: Reach for the sky
The main news studio at Digvijaya News 24x7

Feature: Reach for the sky

A new regional Indian TV channel is doing well in local ratings, with studios equipped by Sennheiser and Neumann. Caroline Moss reports

Digvijaya News 24x7, a television news channel launched by VRL Media and operated from a studio in Bangalore, is owned by the VRL Group, which runs a successful pan-Indian transport and logistics operation. The company wanted to invest in the world of media and, accordingly, launched a regional news channel broadcasting around the clock in the local Kannada language.

The Sennheiser ew100 G3 in use in the VRL news studio
The Sennheiser ew100 G3 in use in the VRL news studio

Sennheiser India, which has extensive experience in equipping TV stations across the subcontinent, has provided Digvijaya News 24x7 with Sennheiser wireless microphones for remote newsgathering, as well as in the newsroom, where they give presenters the freedom to move around. A total of 21 pairs of Neumann KH120 monitors have also been installed across six edit suites, an ingest room, a master control room and two production control rooms.

‘This is the first time that VRL has got into TV,’ explains the news channel’s technical manager, Shreedhar Upadhyay. ‘VRL has a good background in journalism as it previously ran a newspaper, Vijaya Karnataka, which became a big success across India.’ This title was subsequently sold to the Times of India group and another, Vijayavani, was launched by the group, again taking its title from the name of the company’s chairman, Vijay Sankeshwar. Again, the title quickly rose to become one of Karnataka’s most widely circulated newspapers.

‘That gave us the confidence that we could enter the television industry,’ continues Upadhyay. ‘We went ahead and launched Digvijaya News 24x7 and, within one year, it had rose to fifth place in the ratings out of around 15 local channels in the state of Karnataka.’

VRL Media's Shreedhar Upadhyay
VRL Media's Shreedhar Upadhyay

VRL Media totals about 300 members of staff, including around 150 journalists who travel all over the state to report for the newspaper and the TV channel. Some of the existing print journalists were able to convert their skills to presenting the news in front of a camera. There is also a reporter based in the capital, Delhi. ‘He works for both our TV station and the newspaper, reporting on national issues,’ explains Upadhyay. ‘In every district, we also have reporters and stringers.’

Upadhyay has been working in TV since 2006 after completing a diploma in electronics and communications. ‘I started with VRL Media in 2016,’ he explains. ‘Before I started, they had a discussion with me and told me that they wanted to start a news channel with a big setup. I told them to go straight into HD broadcast, and they took my recommendation. We do still also broadcast in SD as lots of people haven’t yet upgraded to HD, but everything is available on the HD platform.’ As most of the output is news, the station currently broadcasts in stereo; however, it is also 5.1-ready. ‘We are the first news channel in Karnataka to use digital audio mixers,’ continues Upadhyay. ‘We don’t have any analogue mixers here. Other channels have digital recorders but they are using them for music programmes.’

The station’s production control rooms, PCR 1 and PCR 2, have been installed with a Yamaha M7CL-48 and a Yamaha QL1 mixing console, respectively. Sennheiser ew 100-ENG G3 wireless ENG sets are used for remote newsgathering, with MKE 2 P-C lapel mics and MD 46 reporter’s handhelds, together with Sennheiser HD 215 headphones. The 2000 Series is deployed in the studios, again with MKE 2 P-C wired lapel mics and MKE 1-4 clip-on mics.

Yamaha M7CL-48 mixing console in PCR 1
Yamaha M7CL-48 mixing console in PCR 1

Upadhyay was instrumental in helping to build the TV studio, supervising a team of specialist broadcast studio designers. ‘I was especially able to give them some advice about the audio equipment that we needed in the studio, and highly recommended that we use Sennheiser,’ he says. ‘We’ve come across many other brands of microphones, but we’ve found that Sennheiser’s quality and response were much better. We also get good local support from them.’

All integration and installation were handled by the Telerad division of Systronics India, which started life 40 years ago as a family business and is now a PLC with branches all over India specialising in broadcast installation. This was the first HD news channel the company, which has worked closely with Sennheiser for a decade, has handled, and Systronics’ Sreedhar Govinda Rao describes the two-month project as a learning experience.

Given VRL’s past success in the media industry, it’s no surprise to learn that there are plans afoot to scale up, maybe becoming a national news channel. The company also hopes to launch a general entertainment channel at some point in the future, and equipment is in place to handle music programming from the news studio. ‘We can telecast music from this studio, with an anchor and some musicians playing songs; the setup is big enough to do that,’ says Upadhyay.

Seems like no challenge is too big for VRL Media.

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