Mahuaa Bangla betting on literary riches

By Sangeeta Tanwar , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | July 14, 2010
Apart from airing content based on Bengal's literary heritage, Mahuaa Bangla will build viewership on weekends by catering to elderly viewers and kids

Queering the pitch further in the Bengali general entertainment space, Mahuaa Media, too, like ABP Group, is set to roll out its general entertainment channel (GEC), Mahuaa Bangla. The GEC will debut this month, with four hours of original programming, including shows such as Twinkle Twinkle Dancing Stars, Sur Sangram and The Match.

In an exclusive interaction with afaqs!, Tapas Bhattasaly, chief operating officer, Mahuaa Media, shares the vision and strategy of the channel in making an impact as the tenth player in the competitive Bengali GEC genre.

"We are setting out to bring in concepts and programmes, which are closer to the heart of the Bengali viewers. The content is designed to create value, which will have a 360-degree effect on the audience, reaching out to all the sections of the society."

The tagline of the channel is 'Jomiye Din Saradin', which means, 'Every time you switch on the channel, you will be enthralled'.

On the content front, the source of inspiration for Mahuaa Bangla will be the rich literary world of Bengal. According to Bhattasaly, the existing GEC players in the market have not gone beyond popular authors, such as Rabindranath Tagore and Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay. Mahuaa Bangla, on the other hand, will focus on the stories of other literary figures, such as Ram Mohan Roy and Jagadish Chandra Bose.

Bhattasaly adds that currently, only 70 per cent of the population in the state watches TV; while the rest are avid readers. Thus, the idea, first and foremost, is to convert this set of readers into loyal TV viewers, by offering them content inspired from the literary world.

The channel will also concentrate on building strong weekend viewership by catering primarily to elderly viewers and kids.

Most of the content on the channel has been outsourced. Among the production houses engaged are Endemol, Saibaba Telefilms and Shree Venkatesh Films.

The channel is currently in talks with leading cable operators of the state for distribution deals, and hopes to have 60 per cent penetration at the time of its launch.

As far as its share in the advertising pie is concerned, Bhattasaly admits that cracking the market would not be an easy task for the channel, given that it is the tenth entrant. However, he points out that Mahuaa Media's existing Bhojpuri GEC, Mahuaa TV will help the Group inspire confidence in marketers that its second regional channel would not compromise on quality of content or technical brilliance.

He also shares that of the Rs 300 crore advertising spends in the Bangla GEC space, Mahuaa Bangla is eyeing a share of 15 per cent by March-end next year.

It will be interesting to see how the GEC fares in a market where it has to compete with the likes of STAR Jalsha, Zee Bangla and ETV Bangla.

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