Simply put, the year 2003 was about more of the same and a little bit of the unexpected.
Especially so on television. More of the same because mass television remained in the stranglehold of the kitchen politics that raised its head on the small screen as the heady days of Kaun Banega Crorepati came to a close. And a little bit of the unexpected because a non-descript girl from an orthodox Punjabi family showed what it take to turn the tables on a glamorous Bollywood diva and a handful of blockbusters on rival channels.
Mischief, intricate emotional entanglements and the never-ending saa-bahu saga continued to be the staple fare on STAR Plus. Interestingly, the once indomitable Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi got some stiff competition this year from Kasautii Zindagii Kay, Kahaani Ghar Ghar Ki and Des Mein Nikla Hoga Chand. The two Balaji siblings and one from the Aroona Irani camp had their moments of glory unseating Kyunki from the number one spot at various points in time.
Not that STAR Plus and its arch rivals Sony and ZEE were averse to experimentation. If there was anything different that STAR Plus offered to its viewers last year it was a clutch of non-family shows. These included talent show Kucch Kar Dikhana Hai, fantasy sitcom Shararat, Small Wonder-remake Karishmaa Ka Karishmaa, drama series Kashmeer and musical game show Hai Na Bolo Bolo. While some of these performed well on the ratings charts, others simply faded into oblivion.
ZEE tried to experiment both with time slots and programming genres. The timing of daily soaps was changed from the conventional Monday to Thursday to the radical Sunday to Wednesday, as Thursdays were slotted for the blockbuster movies. But apart from Astitva - Ek Prem Kahani and to some extent Chausath Panne and the recent Kabhi Kabhi, a three-episode series based on women-oriented stories, nothing much seemed to cut ice with the fastidious television viewer.
The one channel that stood apart for its differentiated programming was Sony. Despite the World Cup's inability to create a base of loyal viewers for Sony, and the lacklustre performance of shows such as Force 1, Kya Hadsaa Kya Haqeeqat, Kahani Terii Merii and Crime Patrol, Sony came back into the reckoning with Jassi Jaissi Koi Nahin. A complete breakaway from run-of-the-mill soaps, Jassi… won the hearts of many with a simple and somewhat (or relative to other saas-bahu soaps) identifiable storyline about a middle-class, less-than-average looking girl's travails at her place of work, as Sahara's Karishma - The Miracles of Destiny (the channel's much vaunted 'trump card') sank without a trace.
Moving over to niche channels, localisation of content was the collective focus of Discovery, National Geographic Channel (NGC) and Cartoon Network. A one-hour block dedicated to India - Discover India - was Discovery's first serious attempt at localisation as NGC explored its relationship with the Indian audiences through a different format. It launched a nationwide contest, Everest Se Takkar, in association with the Indian army to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first Everest climb.
Tenali Raman, Chhota Birbal and Tiny TV were the stars of Cartoon Network in 2003. In addition to acquiring locally produced programmes, the channel's focus remained broadbasing of viewership. To get tiny tots into its folds, Cartoon Network created a new property on the channel Tiny TV, which showcased programmes such as Make Way for Noddy, Bob The Builder, Kipper, Oswald and Pingu. A new channel from the Turner stable, POGO, created especially for India, joined the ranks of Cartoon Network to provide 'complete' television for Indian children.
On their part, both STAR Movies and HBO made special efforts to package content as innovatively as possible. Right from branding days based on movie genres to creating themes such as Cute and Cuddly (HBO), Summer Action Marathon (HBO), Made in India (STAR Movies), the two rival English movie channels fought tooth and nail for viewership. To create that extra buzz among viewers, HBO recently launched its 'original' franchise, late night show Sex and the City, while STAR Movies launched a counter offensive in Steven Spielberg-produced science fiction series Taken.
Though ZEE MGM lagged behind the two in terms of viewership, it spruced up its programming considerably. To encourage appointment viewing, the movie channel introduced a slot on Tuesdays, MGM Rig, where movie lovers get a chance to choose their movies from a list hosted on contests2win.com. With the acquisition of Traffic and Oscar winner Chicago, starring Richard Gere, Renee Zellweger and Catherine Zeta Jones, the channel steadily build up recall.
Among news channels, Aaj Tak remained the unquestioned leader, as STAR News (Hindi) and NDTV India went on to pick up a few brownie points with innovative programming concepts and packaging. Doordarshan launched its 24-hour news channel with much fan-fare, and steadily climbed the ratings chart with much-improved coverage during the Assembly polls.
The fledging radio industry saw its share of frenetic activity as radio stations (Radio City, Radio Mirchi and Red FM) churned out contests and specials at a feverish face. In an act of derring-do Radio City launched 16 programmes at one go, while Radio Mirchi tried to make in roads in the advertising community with the launch of Kaan awards, and Red FM pitched its battle on the equity of its presenters - Ameen Sayani and Shamshir Rai Luthra.
In print, English dailies The Times Of India and Hindustan Times experimented both with colour and content, and lead English newspaper The Times Of India launched Speednews, a short and snappy version of the group's flagship brand TOI, for time-pressed consumers. Â© 2004 agencyfaqs!