Ex-ZEE hand B L Gautam is COO of B4U Network

By , agencyfaqs! | In
Last updated : January 21, 2005
Gautam has a clear mandate - to get B4U Music and Movies up the pecking order

B L Gautam, who was associated with ZEE Telefilms for four years (2000-
2004), has taken over as the new COO of B4U Network in India. Gautam joined on January 17, 2005 and will report in to the global CEO of B4U Sunil Rohra.

His mandate at B4U, which has two channels - B4U Music and B4U Movies - is to first improve distribution before attempting an overhaul in terms of content. Both B4U Music and Movies hover at the no. 4 position behind rivals MTV, CHannel [v] and Etc Music, and MAX, ZEE Cinema and STAR Movies, respectively.

Gautam admits that one of the downsides of the movie channel is its lack of freshness, which he hopes to plug in the coming months. One initiative that he intends kicking off are theatrical trailers for new and recently-released films.

This will be done at no additional costs (in terms of commercial time) to producers, he says, and will be accompanied with promotions of the film's music. "These trailers will run for two weeks post the release of the film to ensure visibility," he adds.

Distribution, however, is Gautam's bigger challenge, owing to B4U's standalone status. Currently, the network has over 1,200 IRD boxes in the market and Gautam hopes to seed another 1,000 more to increase penetration. For the uninitiated, IRD boxes are installed at the cable operator's end for reception of signals.

Once penetration improves, the next challenge will be content for which quality will play a critical role, says Gautam. "We've always been slick in terms of our packaging and reception of signals. On the movie channel, we are definitely looking at two or three blockbusters and medium-budget films, relevant for a TV audience."

Comedy and drama are the two genres that the channel will concentrate on, in terms of movie acquisitions. "Hindi action is not so hot, while comedy is on the rise over the last two years," he says.

On the music channel, apart from veejay-led shows, countdowns and music videos, a special emphasis will be on creation of original music through ground events with artistes. "This will not only ensure that the channel gets much-needed software, but the content could be made available to music companies at a price," he adds.

Interestingly, Etc Music as well as Etc Channel Punjabi have a similar strategy of doing ground events with renowned artistes. "But the music is not original," says Gautam. "We are talking of getting these guys to do some original work that hasn't been played or heard earlier."

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First Published : January 21, 2005
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