Lashkara, the Punjabi channel from the eight-channel bouquet of Reminiscent Television (RTV) network, has marched ahead of ETC Channel Punjabi and Alfa Punjabi as the most viewed Punjabi channel, according to the recent ORG-MARG study. As per the study, Lashkara has a C&S penetration of 80 per cent in Punjab and just under 50 per cent in Delhi. And in terms of distribution reach, four out of five homes in Punjab have access to Lashkara.
The ORG-MARG research conducted in December 2000, took into account SEC A, B and C viewers who have C&S connections and are in the age group of 8-54 years. The viewer thus defined was someone who watched the channel one day before the day of interview for at least 10 minutes.
The findings showed that in Delhi, Lashkara's viewership was 70 per cent (while ETC and Alfa had 16 and 15 per cent respectively). Similarly in Chandigarh, Lashkara enjoyed a 70 per cent viewership, whereas ETC had 13 per cent and Alfa 15 per cent. Lashkara's viewership in Ludhiana and Jalandhar was 48 and 54 per cent respectively. And in smaller towns Lashkara was seen by 56 per cent of the core audience, compared with 29 and 15 per cent of ETC and Alfa. However, in Amritsar, a relatively higher proportion of individuals watched ETC and Alfa.
Rabindra Narayan, president, ETC Channel Punjabi, however disclaimed this observation by pointing out that "according to the INTAM survey for the period April 30, 2001 to May 6, 2001, which was done across all SECs in 10-30 lakh towns in Punjab, we have the highest reach of 17.46 per cent, followed by Alfa Punjabi at 16.33 per cent, Lashkara at 14.21 and Tara Punjabi at 1.3."
Subhash Menon, managing director, RTV, has an interesting rejoinder to this. "It is important to take into account that the INTAM survey is only limited to Ludhiana, which does not account for the whole of Punjab and it covers a sample size of only hundred people, whereas the ORG-MARG survey covered Delhi, Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Patiala, Bhatinda, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur and Chandigarh."
For Subhash Menon, the findings of the ORG-MARG study represents an opportunity to increase the ad-sales revenue. "We are in the process of educating media planners on the potential of Punjab and the benefit of advertising on Lashkara based on the ORG-MARG study. In this short span of two years, Lashkara has not only emerged a market leader among Punjabi channels but has also carved out a niche for itself with the non-Punjabi audiences. And now we plan to build further, by focusing on mainstream entertainment programming in the near future."
Lashkara and Gurjari were the first channels launched by RTV in India on April 14, 1999. Lashkara entered the UK as a free-to-air channel in May 2000, and in September 2000 Gurjari was launched. This was followed by Cee (I) TV (Tamil) and Anjuman (Urdu) in the UK. Bangla TV, Asia One (Hindi) and MATV (UK's only terrestrial Asian Channel) were launched in September 2000 in the UK. The satellites used are Thaicom 3 in global beam, Optus over Australia and New Zealand, Fiji Islands, and Astra over UK and Europe. All these are pay channels in UK, Europe and Australia. Currently, RTV reaches over 2.6 million South Asians in the UK through a network of regional language channels.
But back home the road to success was not an easy one. "We faced a shortage of quality software in the earlier days as we refused to take the easy way of dubbing programmes but always delivered programmes in their original language." Lashkara worked out its way by starting in-house production on a large scale, hiring directors, writers and setting up shooting units in Jalandhar, Chandigarh and Delhi. The channel sent across production staff from Mumbai to oversee the production in Punjab. They were stationed there till the quality standards were met with.
The other challenge Lashkara faced was getting national advertisers on board. "Hindi being a spoken and understood language across the country, convincing advertisers to advertise on a regional channel was tough. After two tears of hard work we have been able to convince some advertisers that advertising on these language channels deliver sales, which is what the advertiser is looking at. However, there are other sources of income such as software syndication and exports and sales in overseas markets," explains Menon.
Menon believes that no regional channel language can be profitable only on the basis of advertisement revenue generated in India. "The market size of the Punjabi channels in India is around 2 per cent and there is no scope for new channels to make an entry in the existing market. Lashkara is competing with DD Punjabi, ETC Punjabi and Tara Punjabi, and Alpha Punjabi. We understood the need to expand operations internationally long time back and now we have a lead there. We have successfully completed a year in the overseas markets."
But that does not rule out the fact that Lashkara would not beef up its software in India. "Just enough of religious programming, soaps, sitcoms - both entertainment and infotainment - can hold the interest of the target audience. In future there is going to be an emphasis on lots of interactive programmes, which will differentiate us from all other Punjabi channels," says Menon. Keeping that in mind Lashkara launched a web site, lashkaracontests.com in March 2001 for viewer interactivity.
Right now he is giving touches to his off-line plans. "We have invested in a 25,000 sq ft property in Andheri west (Mumbai) to house our future projects like Telefilm production, studios for news, programming and editing facilities etc." He is looking at reworking the spot rates, which stands at Rs 1,000 for 10-second spots currently. On the cards are more events like the annual Lashkara Music Awards (which is to be held on June 22, 2001) and Gujarati Film Awards.
© 2001 agencyfaqs!