|Network||Asianet Star Communications|
|Picture format||1080i HDTV|
(downscaled to letterboxed 576i for the SDTV feed) SD & HD Feeds Available
(Country Manager & President, The Walt Disney Company India & Disney Star, Managing Director (MD) of Asianet)
|Sister channels||Disney Star channels|
|Launched||30 August 1993|
|Founder||Dr Raji Menon|
|Website||Asianet on Disney+ Hotstar|
|Disney+ Hotstar||Watch Asianet on Disney+ Hotstar|
Asianet is an Indian Malayalam language general entertainment pay television channel owned by Disney Star (formerly Star India), a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company India. Asianet and its channels are operated by Asianet Star Communications, Wholly owned by Disney Star. The channel's headquarters in Thiruvananthapuram. Asianet HD is the First HD television channel in Malayalam.
The channel was originally promoted by Dr Raji Menon in the mid 1990s. In late 2006, Dr Raji Menon partially pulled out of Asianet Communications, turning over control to Rajeev Chandrasekhar (Jupiter Entertainment Ventures). Star India bought a 51% stake in Asianet Communications and formed a joint venture with JEV in November 2008. In 2014, Star India took full ownership of Asianet Communications.
Asianet's story starts much earlier than in 1993, it starts in Moscow. Dr Raji Menon was a student there and Mr P.Unnikrishnan was the correspondent of PTI in Moscow. Dr Raji Menon became a successful businessman based in Moscow and Mr P Unnikrishnan became the General Manager of PTI in India. When Mr Unnikrishnan initiated the idea of PTI TV, Dr Raji Menon's nephew Mr Sasikumar was appointed. When the Central government scraped Doordarsan's monopoly, Mr Unnikrishnan was among the first to react and with Dr Raji Menon they planned to start a National channel. Four of the leading newspapers and PTI itself, were to join in with Dr Menon as the Chief promotor and Mr Unnikrishnan at the helm of the Channel (after his retirement from PTI). Dr Menon negotiated for a transponder on the Russian satellite EKRAN, with a powerful beam over India , which meant that using a cheep spiral antenna the signal could be received all over India. In the absence of any cable connectivity in India, without the sanction to do terrestrial transmission, this was a good solution. The transponder was very costly, the satellite had the life span of two years and there were only two transponders on the satellite.
In India, ill fate hit the idea. Mr Unnikrishnan was terminally ill with lung cancer and now the whole idea was in a limbo. Mr Sashikumar and Mr Madhavankutty of Mathrubhoomi (Delhi) suggested tuning down the idea to a Malayalam Channel and Dr Raji Menon agreed and the first Malayalam Channel was born. Asianet's logo is a derivative of Dr Menon's company logo. Dr Menon's office in Chennai became Asianet's head office. To address the issue of cable networking a separate company called Asianet Satellite Communications was formed. Mr P Bhaskaran the renowned poet was the figurehead chairman. Dr Menon being not full time in India, on his behalf Mr Sashikumar the favourite nephew was in charge. Asianet Communications was registered with Dr C P Chandrasekhar and Mr Sashikumar as the first directors as Dr Menon as a NRI needed RBI clearance to own a media company. Dr Menon bought Uma Studio from the famous Malayalam actor Mr Madhu and this became Asianet's Puliarkonam Studio. Mr Karunakaran the CM granted sanction to use the Electricity poles for cable networking. This was a mammoth effort.
In the absence of bank financing 50% shares of the cable networking company was offloaded to the Raheja Group. Dr Menon increased Mr Sashikumar's sweat equity from the initial 5% to 45% in stages. 5% of the equity was with Mr Raghu Nandan (Dr Menon’ elder brother). Dr Menon bought back the shares earlier given to Mr Sashikumar in 1999 at an agreed price, and took over full control of Asianet. Asianet was not in a comfortable financial situation then.
The remaining 50% shares in Asianet Satellite communications , the cable networking company was also sold to The Raheja Group who now had complete ownership of the Cable Networking Company called Asianet Satellite Communications.
Asianet started one more channel as Asianet Global on 6 July 2001 to cater to the Malayalees outside India, and this was later restructured into a News Channel.
Asianet aired its first news bulletin starting 30 September 1995. Under an arrangement with the Russian embassy with the help of Dr Ratheesh Nair (current), the famous Gorky Bhavan was repaired and taken over by Asianet. Asianet news operated from Gorky Bhavan from 2000. The central Government sanction for a full-fledged news channel took time and hence it was launched much later than planned on 1 May 2003. Dr Raji Menon the Chairman was also the Chief Editor of the News Channel.
Dr Menon managed Asianet with the help of Mr Mohan Nair as COO, Mr Prem Menon as Head of Marketing, Mr K P Mohanan first as Vice President News and later as Managing Editor Asianet News and Mr. M P K Nair Director Finances. (ex Federal Bank Chairman). Mr K Madhavan and Mr MPK Nair were elevated to the board of Asianet. In the second half of 2000 Mr Madhavan was appointed as the M D of Asianet. In 2002, when Mr MPK Nair left Mr Jiothispathy took over the responsibility. Mr TN Gopakumar and Mr Zakharia had major contributions to make. Mr PRS Nair helped in technology related affairs in the studio. Mr Madhavan was given 5% shares in the company as sweat equity. This was later raised to 15%. The chief editor Dr Menon always insisted on the news channel being objective and politically neutral. Asianet +, one more entertainment channel was started from 27 October 2005 and now from Asianet 3 channels were in the offering.
Starting 2001 discussions were held with Mr Subhash Chandra of Zee TV on joining forces (strategic partnership) to expand Asianet TV into all the other 3 South Indian languages . An agreement was signed but the deal fell through. Sometime in 2004 Mr Srikandan Nair was elevated from the position of an anchor of Nammal Thammil to the position of chief of programs by Dr Menon.
In 2006, with his main interest now in hydrocarbons Dr Raji Menon offloaded 51% shares of Asianet to Mr Rajeev Chandrasekhar of Jupiter Capital.
Asianet was restructured into four companies in June 2008 (general entertainment, news, radio and media infrastructure). This move was to allow separate investments in each company. Star India started talks with the owners of the Asianet channels in August, 2008.
Star India eventually bought a 51% stake in Asianet Communications and formed a joint venture with JEV in November 2008. The joint venture, called "Star Jupiter", comprised all general entertainment channels of Asianet 8 October 2013 Bombay 12 March Communications (Asianet, Asianet Plus, Asianet Suvarna and Asianet Sitara) and Star Vijay. Star India had reportedly paid $235 million in cash for the 51% stake and assumed net debt of approximately $20 million. It's not clear how much stake Menon held in the new Star Jupiter venture. Prior to forming the JV, it was known that the original founder had held about 26% stake.
Star India increased its stake in Asianet Communications to 75% in July 2010 (for which Star India paid around $90 million in cash), and to 87%, by acquiring 12% stake for $160 million in June, 2013. The later move was by virtue of acquiring a 19% equity stake in Vijay TV from Chandrasekhar and Asianet Communications MD Madhavan. Following the June, 2013 investment, Asianet Communications was valued at $1.33 billion. Star India acquired 100% stake in Asianet Communications (buying the remaining 13% stake) in March 2014.
Star India was a subsidiary of 21st Century Fox. Upon The Walt Disney Company acquiring most of 21st Century Fox on March 20, 2019, Asianet Star Communications, along with all of Star India's subsidiaries, became subsidiaries of The Walt Disney Company, and restructuring put them under Disney India.
Asianet is the top rated Malayalam television channel. Asianet has a presence in over 60 countries worldwide including the Indian sub-continent, China, South East Asia, Middle East, Europe, United States and the lower half of the former Soviet Union.
Asianet Plus is second Malayalam General Entertainment pay television channel owned by Disney Star. It telecasts serials, retelecast of Asianet's old serials, movies etc.
Asianet Movies is an Indian Malayalam language pay television movie channel that was launched on 15 July 2012. The channel is wholly owned by Asianet Star Communications, subsidiary of Disney Star. It's HD Feed, Asianet Movies HD launching soon.
Main article: List of programs broadcast by Asianet
Due to COVID-19 pandemic situation, Malayalam movie Kilometers and Kilometers released directly through Asianet on 30 August 2020 on occasion of Onam.
Main article: Asianet Film Awards
Asianet has an award ceremony for films presented annually by Asianet. Asianet says that awards ceremony has been instituted to honour both artistic and technical excellence in the Malayalam language film industry.
Main article: Asianet Television Awards
Awards for the Television Serials were started with this name, every year best serials were nominated and presented awards to them.
((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)