Indian TV channel seeks prospective brides and grooms

Indian TV channel seeks prospective brides and grooms
Managing Director of India's first Matrimonial TV channel Shagun, Anuranjan Jha, poses at the channel's studio in Noida around 30 kilometers from New Delhi.

NEW DELHI - India's focus on marriage has fuelled an industry worth billions, lining the pockets of everyone from wedding planners to jewellers to astrologers and now, a new TV channel hopes to cash in.

When television producer Anuranjan Jha met his wife through a matrimonial website 12 years ago, he came up with what he describes as a gold mine of an idea.

"I thought, if the internet, which only reaches a small percentage of Indians can be so successful in arranging marriages, then why not television which is everywhere?" Jha, now the managing director of Shagun TV, told AFP.

More than 47 percent of Indian households have a television compared with just over 3 percent with internet access, according to 2011 census data. It took Jha more than a decade, but he finally launched Shagun TV (the name means "auspicious TV" in Hindi) in April.

The Hindi-language channel currently attracts around ten million viewers a week, Jha said, citing figures compiled by television ratings agency TAM India.

He hopes to see that number double to twenty million soon, as he expands the channel's distribution network, currently limited to a single national satellite TV provider, Videocon d2h.

The channel features shows designed to help viewers find brides or grooms, look up honeymoon destinations, shop for jewellery, check out horoscopes and learn how to get along with one's in-laws.

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