The Broadcast Worldwide-promoted Tara Bangla, led by promoter (and former STAR TV India chairman) R Basu, is hoping that a local slant will give it an edge over its rivals - ETC Bangla and Alpha Bangla - making it a formidable rival by March this year. On January 4, in the latest of a series of localising initiatives, the channel launched an "Antakshari" show hosted by Indranil Sen, the noted Bengali singer.
The channel will also launch, effective January 15, three new programmes - an investigative programme, a travel show and a 10-minute sports news capsule on the various sporting events in Kolkata. "From the big league football matches to cock fight in a local district, what we are doing is give the channel a local flavour, and, over a period of time, make the channel more interactive," says Pradipto Sircar, director, (marketing), Tara Bangla.
Buffeted by troubles, which saw a halving of its staff last year, and revived by a $800,000-investment in Broadcast Worldwide by the Mauritius-based company Crombie International, the channel hopes that such localisation will give it an edge over its rivals. According to sources, the channel earned ad revenue of Rs 10 crore last year, but is far from breaking even.
The next two months will see the launch of a programme for women, a quiz for school and college students, an interactive programme on psychological counselling, and a host of new programmes. Right now, of Tara Bangla's 24-hour programming, nearly 13 hours, a little less than a half, comprises completely new programming.
The channel has been localising with a vengeance. Last November, it simultaneously launched a current affairs show, a game show, a Bengali movie every afternoon, and a celebrity anchored show that showcases the common man's problems in the city.
The channel has also given a new twist to older programming. For example, Bengal's and especially Kolkata's television audience has a legendary fondness for politics and current affairs. ETC Bangla tapped into this with a 5-minute news bulletin every hour - an innovation that has contributed quite a lot to its position at the top. Tara too pandered to Kolkata's hunger for such news, but tapped into a hitherto unlooked at resource - the considerable non-Bengali speaking populace in the city. In November, it launched, for the first time, a Hindi news programme on a Bengali channel.
Yet, given the fact that Hindi news is amply provided for by other major networks, the stress was on local news, such as happenings at the Calcutta Stock Exchange, or news that directly affects the city.
However, the task that the channel has is formidable. The shows on ETC Bangla have a TRP that ranges between 5 and 6; most of the shows on Tara average between 1 and 2. What the channel is hoping for is to attract advertisers with its lower rates for advertisements. For example, a 10-second slot on the channel costs Rs 1,000. On DD7, 10-second slots on the more popular programmes go for Rs 8,000. Another innovation by Tara Bangla has been to allow co-sponsorship of programmes at nominal rates. These give small companies, eager to promote their brand, the chance to be associated with the sponsorship of a show, something that usually only companies with deep pockets can do.
The company also entered into a strategic tie up with Kolkata-based news agency Rainbow Productions - with a revenue sharing agreement of 70 (for Rainbow):30 - to produce news, news-based programmes, game shows, chat shows and soaps, all aimed at local audiences.
The channel has also pinned its hopes on the popular soap "Ogo Priyatama", a story based on a love triangle and aired Monday to Thursday, in the 4.30 pm to 5.00 pm slot, to give it an edge. The channel also has a second daily soap titled "Bhalo Beshe Mitloh Nah Sadh", based on three friends who adopt an illegitimate girl, who is trying to trace her mother. This is aired from Friday to Sunday, in the 4.30 pm to 5.00 pm slot.
The pinnacle of the efforts at localisation are the plans of the channel to start a new interactive show - along the lines of "New York One", a programme that allows any New Yorker to stroll into the channel's studios and air their views, which are telecast live. Tara plans to adopt the same for the Kolkata audience.
Concentrating on local content is a marketing strategy that has been tried by others - most famously by Sun TV, which, with its focus on regional programming was able to capture a major chunk of the south Indian TV market. However, Sun had an advantage that it had a near monopoly. It remains to be seen if the formula will work in the crowded Bengali television programming market. © agencyfaqs!