No doubt broadcasters of niche channels have to work that much harder to create and sustain loyalists for their channels. And the Discovery Communications India (DCI) brass knows this only too well.
For quite some time now, it has been tinkering with the channel programming to make it more 'relatable' to Indians. For example, on the occasion of the country's Republic Day the channel telecast three India-specific programmes - Amazing World's: India, Steam's Indian Summer and Magic Trees of Assam - in which India was in the spotlight.
However, it was with the launch of Discover India (the one-hour block on Saturdays, from 9.00 to 10.00 pm) on April 5, 2003, that DCI signaled it is serious about forging a special connect with the Indian audiences. "Discover India was launched to satisfy the Indian viewers' curiosity about her own country," explains Aditya P Tripathi, director, marketing, DCI.
In fact, Discover India is DCI's first attempt at providing content focusing exclusively on India, though the contours of Discovery programming had begun changing much before, in mid-2001, when it started taking decisions on the kind of programmes to be showcased in this country. In seems DCI has been "putting pressure on its international counterparts" to include more India-focused shows in the series they commission. This, claims the company, has resulted in Indian stories on programmes such as World Birthday and World Wedding.
To make the Discover India slot more attractive, Discovery has decided to acquire India-centric programmes from Indian producers. "As a first step in that direction, we have invited Indian filmmakers to send us details of films they have made on India," says Pankaj Saxena, director, programming, DCI. "However, we are clear that we would go through a very detailed process of vetting all films submitted to us. We hope to have some of these original films on air very soon."
The response from producers has been good, claim company officials. DCI has received around 1,600 entries films already. The competition, it is evident, will be intense. After all, a total of 52 hours (in one year) on the Discover India block is up for grabs. The channel may also decide to increase the time span on this block - but in the long run. "There are no plans to do so in the immediate future, but it is something we are considering," says Saxena.
The growing popularity of Discover India is also leading the way for future programming on DCI. "Viewer and advertiser response to Discover India has been very encouraging and we are using this input while framing our future programming strategy," says Saxena. "This clearly shows Indian viewers are interested in high quality programming on Indian topics. We are keen on bringing in variety in the slot and we will be delighted to introduce shows on the modernity of India." © 2003 agencyfaqs!First Published : June 13, 2003