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National Geographic goes 'desi'

By , agencyfaqs! | In | November 02, 2000
After a successful two-and-a-half year run in India, National Geographic Channel has kick-started a marketing blitz to promote its first major India-centric programme - 'A Month in India'

Prachi Joshi Johar
agencyfaqs!
NEW DELHI, November 2

After a successful two-and-a-half year run in India, National Geographic Channel (NGC) has kick-started a marketing blitz to promote its first major India-centric programme - 'A Month in India'. The programme will feature a series of India-based programmes and documentaries with the objective of showcasing country-relevant programming to Indian and Asian viewers.

"'A Month in India' aims to capture untold stories about India," says Deborah Armstrong, vice-president, sales and marketing, NGC Asia. "There have been a whole lot of documentaries on Africa but the Indian continent is not fully explored. We want to bridge this gap by means of our new programme on India. Besides, India is a very important market for us and its dramatic beauty and cultural diversity make it an all the more compelling subject for viewers in India and the rest of the world."

'India Diaries' will be the first six-episode series to be featured in the programme. Guiding the viewer on screen through the series will be famous travelers Aditya Patankar and Mark Shand. India Diaries will feature six 30-minute documentaries shot in different regions of India. These include 'Elephant Wars' and 'Keeping the Faith' filmed in Bengal, 'The Last Dance' filmed in Sonepur, Bihar, 'Unholy Mission' shot in Meghalaya, 'Final Frontier' shot in Arunachal Pradesh and 'Travels with my Eunuch' shot in the state of Gujarat.

'India Diaries' is being produced and directed by Patrick Mark, who has over 15 years experience in producing, directing and writing for networks including the BBC, Channel Four and ITV. Besides 'India Diaries', the other India-based documentaries to be shown in 'A Month in India' include 'Day of the Elephant', 'Nulla Pumbu', 'Tiger's Eye' and 'Father of the Camel'.

To promote the programme, NGC is taking roadshows from New Delhi to Mumbai and Bangalore. In fact, in Delhi, the men behind 'A Month in India'- Aditya Patankar and Mark Shand - would help promote the programme in association with St Stephen's College's wildlife society. NGC has lined up four sponsors, including BPL for the programme.

This India-centric programming is seen as a major step in the channel's efforts to localise its programmes. The channel had started with Hindi programmes about five months ago and currently, NGC offers 14 hours of Hindi programming every week. Says Armstrong, "The Hindi blocks have helped the channel to grow exponentially in the last five months, and during the period we got over 100 new advertisers."

To put things into perspective, the channel has seen a 54 per cent jump in its subscriber base in India within the last one year. Indian cable television subscribers watching NGC jumped from 7.8 million in January 2000 to 12 million currently. NGC currently sells airtime in a majority of its prime-time programming, with over 250 advertisers advertising on the channel.

Reiterating the channel's commitment to localise its programmes, Ward Platt, managing director, NGC Asia, had earlier said, "We have concrete evidence to show that there are more people watching our programmes and watching them longer, if we localise them. This year itself Hindi and Mandarin voice-overs have been added to the channel as part of its localisation plans to make the impact of its shows more international."

NGC is also planning to launch a comprehensive India-specific website in November to boost its presence in the subcontinent.

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