Zee Entertainment, in association with USAID, PlanetRead and Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIM A), has implemented Same Language Subtitling (SLS) on its leading regional channels - Zee Talkies and Zee Marathi - with an aim to improve the basic functional reading competency of children in Maharashtra. The initiative is in line with the Ministry of Human Resource Development's Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan - 'Padhe Bharat Badhe Bharat'.
An SLS report co-authored by Prof. Brij Kothari of IIM Ahmedabad, in collaboration with Zee, states that 'in the pilot project, for nearly two years, from June 2013 to May 2015, Same Language Subtitling was added on all the songs of 10 weekly Marathi movies telecast in prime time, on Zee Talkies, the state's most popular 24x7 Marathi movie channel. The song-subtitled movies were further repeated in other slots on Zee Talkies and Zee Marathi. Together, this resulted in an unprecedented scale up of SLS in Maharashtra, far more than the project had even planned for or anticipated. The study has shown tremendous impact on school children's reading skills, especially those from classes 1-3, with the results showing 10 to 14 per cent more children becoming better readers in each grade'.
SLS is the idea of subtitling mainstream TV content in the 'same' language as the audio, and follows the notion of 'what you hear is what you read'. Several research studies have found that SLS causes automatic and inescapable reading engagement among viewers. Regular SLS exposure, especially on song-based content, is known to contribute to reading skill improvement.
ZEEL plans to extend this project to its other channels, gradually.