GECs are back with a new bang

By Sapna Nair , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Media Publishing | December 10, 2008
Following the strike and the blackout, GECs are working hard to win back their share of viewership

Following & #BANNER1 & # the lull that resulted from the producers-workers' stand-off, which led to a blackout of fresh content, general entertainment channels (GECs) have launched new shows and are expected to launch more in the coming weeks.

All the GECs had to put their new programming lineups on hold, courtesy the strike. Now, the last two weeks have seen new launches in the genre. Colors has four new shows in its programming basket - two fiction shows and two reality shows.

On December 1, Colors launched Uttaran (a story about an underprivileged child and her dreams) and Jaane Kya Baat Hui (a drama about a married woman who takes a lover), to replace Bigg Boss, which ended on a high note on November 22 during the strike.

Colors will also launch two reality shows, Dancing Queen and Chhote Miyan, which will be aired on weekends. Dancing Queen is a dance reality show featuring women celebrities paired with ordinary people, while Chhote Miyan will have kids unleashing their humour quotient.

"We wanted to launch these shows in phases, but because of the strike, we had to hold them back," says Ashwini Yardi, programming head, Colors.

STAR Plus phased out two of its daily soaps, Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi (KSBKBT) and Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki. It had to wait through the dispute period to replace one of them. Aap Ki Kachehri, a reality show in which supercop Kiran Bedi helps to settle social and moral disputes, was launched on the day fresh content returned on the GECs. It replaces KSBKBT.

Zee TV launched a new show, Chhoti Bahu, in its 7.30 pm slot on weekdays. This, too, was scheduled to be launched earlier, but was put on hold until the strike was called off. NDTV Imagine will launch Oye It's Friday this week; the show has director-actor Farhan Akhtar as its host.

With repeats taken off the air and new episodes and new programming initiatives, the broadcasters hope to regain their lost viewership.

Sudha Natrajan, chief operating officer and joint president, Lintas Media Group, believes that loyal viewers will return to their favourite shows and the older shows will get better stickiness for the channels. "It will be at least two or more weeks before the GECs can reclaim their share of the viewership," she says.