lots of speculation and the recent parting of ways with Balaji Telefilms, STAR India is finally set to roll out its second regional general entertainment channel. STAR Jolsha, a Bangla GEC, promises to be the ultimate procession of celebration. The channel will be a 100 per cent subsidiary of STAR India and will go on air on September 8.
Speaking to afaqs! at the sidelines of the event marking the announcement of the channel, Prem Kamath, vice-president, marketing, STAR India, says, "The new offering is going to redefine how regional language GECs are perceived. The Bengali GEC is going to capture and reflect the rich cultural heritage of the state, coupled with its new, changing, modern, progressive face. It is the relentless understanding of consumer psyche and choices that has, over the years, helped STAR in redefining TV viewing as a whole. STAR Jolsha, too, will see us establishing new trends. The key to success will be innovation and experimentation in programming."
STAR's first successful foray in the regional space was STAR Vijay, which it acquired in 2001 from UTV. It has taken the company several years since then to come out with a second GEC. Kamath explains that, as a company, their priority has always been to get the product mix right, drawing heavily on extensive market research. Admittedly, there is a large gap between the first project and the second one, but the company has taken the plunge now, confident of its planning and strategy.
Commenting on the programming lineup, Gaurav Banerjee, vice-president and head, content, STAR Jolsha, says, "Our channel has attempted to present a different storytelling style. The state has a unique cultural identity with a great body of art and literature. The programming will draw from this identifiable treasure trove of great culture and literature. The youthful look and approach of the channel will further dispel the false notion that anything to do with the word 'regional' translates into an inferior quality of content and presentation."
Banerjee refused to share the investment figures for the channel, explaining that the company's philosophy has always been to offer creative content, focusing on engaging, quality programming. Money has never been the criterion for making it big.
According to him, if it is just about spends, then sooner or later, somebody with much deeper pockets will outsmart you. The reference here, in all probability, is to the new Hindi GEC, Colors. At the same time, Banerjee admits that STAR has never been one to cut corners or sacrifice creativity when it comes to budgets.
Describing an average viewer of the Bangla channel, Kamath says, "The GEC targets aspirational viewers in SEC A and B. Also, the local skew in this market is towards men, in comparison to the higher skew towards women in Hindi GECs."
STAR has come out with an anthem song with a music video and TV AV to promote the channel. The anthem song, Chalo Paltai (Let's Change), is an attempt to capture the youthful spirit and changing face of a resurgent, progressive Bengal. The song has been put together by music director Pritam and sung by Abhijeet. The music video has been shot by Equinox Films. The AV showcases the promos of the soaps and shows on the channel.
Interestingly, the anthem song and promotional AV are running on STAR's competitor channel, Zee Bangla. According to Kamath, this association with Zee Bangla proves that a lot of effort and thought has been put into devising the marketing and advertising strategy for the channel. Without revealing details of the planned promotional activities, Kamath shares that the logo and other creatives have been done by Bates 141.
Talking about advertisers on the new regional GEC, Kevin Vas, executive vice-president, advertising and sales, STAR India, says, "The real process of finalising deals with interested brands will begin in another 10 days. But without doubt, all the major national brands, who have been sharing a longstanding relationship with the STAR family, will be seen on the channel. From our end, apart from plain spot selling, the effort will be to offer potential advertisers some innovative opportunities for brand promotion and placement and to create an arrangement for brand placement and higher brand integration. The ratio of national and local advertisers currently stands at 70 to 30 per cent."
Uday Shankar, chief executive officer, STAR India, could not make it to the event. However, in an official communiqué, he expressed his firm belief that the brand has been known for raising the bar in the past, and this time too, it promises to bring about a revolution in Bengali entertainment.
JC Giri, regional channel head, STAR India, said that the Bengali regional genre has registered a substantial growth in the past two years, in comparison to other regional entertainment markets. Now in this evolving market, the new Bangla GEC will cater to the changing habits of the Bengali viewer.