Prachi Joshi Johar
NEW DELHI, October 23
Zee Telefilms Ltd is adding a new English channel to its portfolio. Positioned as a premium infotainment channel, Chakra is aimed squarely at the Western audiences hungry for Indian spiritualism. The channel will go on air in April 2001.
"The channel will have a totally parallel approach compared with an ordinary entertainment channel, in terms of its content," said Alok Dutta, CEO, Chakra. The programmes on Chakra will be drawn from ancient knowledge from India, both documented and otherwise. They will be derived mostly from the Vedas, Indian spiritualism, meditation, Ayurveda, herbal products, food, organic products and Indian astrology or 'jyotish shastra'.
"Added to this, if the viewers want to experience the products - herbal, food, organic products - that would be showcased on the channel, the products can be made available to them offline," said Dutta.
The channel will focus on the American and European audiences to start with, and has plans to spread its wings to Australia and Japan subsequently. Depending on the response, India would come on the agenda next. Dutta said, "There is a distinct market in the West for a channel of this genre. The channel is meant for people seeking alternate lifestyles and so it is aimed at western audiences among whom there is a growing interest about ancient Indian knowledge."
According to Dutta, "Our core competence in the area of generating content coupled with a largely untapped Western audience - among whom there is a surging demand for knowledge on ancient Indian scriptures, traditional methods of therapy etc - makes Chakra a very viable business proposition," he said.
Dutta told agencyfaqs that a multipronged strategy is being adopted to collect the necessary information base. A host of specialized agencies, research organizations across the country are being used for the purpose. Speaking about competition, Dutta said, "There are channels like the Mahirishi channel on spiritualism, but Chakra will have a more holistic lifestyle approach than plain spiritualism."
Chakra would be a paid channel and would be drawing most of its revenue from the subscribers. Zee's investment on the channel by the end of the current fiscal would be to the tune of Rs 25 crore to Rs 30 crore. The company has another Rs 100-crore investment lined up for the channel for the next financial year.
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