One step at a time is what Discovery Channel in India has been taking to consolidate its position in the niche space of infotainment. It began with a Hindi feed, moving on to programming more 'relatable' to Indians - such as Amazing World's: India, Steam's Indian Summer and Magic Trees of Assam, in which India was in the spotlight - to finally creating the Discover India (one-hour block on Saturdays, from 9.00 to 10.00 pm) property on the channel.
To make the Discover India slot more attractive, Discovery went on to acquire India-centric programmes from Indian producers. Meanwhile, Discovery Communications India began "putting pressure on its international counterparts" to include more India-focused shows in the series they commission. This resulted in Indian stories on programmes such as World Birthday and World Wedding.
Now, the channel brass is ready to commission a project of considerable scale specific to India.
Talking about this initiative, Pankaj Saxena, director, programming, says, "We are thinking of commissioning projects, but we are waiting for the right kind." The channel is in the process of shortlisting Indian producers for the proposed project; though nothing is firmed up at this stage. Company executives assure that the project would be launched in the last quarter of calendar year 2004.
If Discovery India's latest project takes off, it will be the first in its space to do so. National Geographic Channel India did set a precedent of sorts by commissioning Mission Everest, but is yet to undertake an initiative of comparable scale. Mission Everest was specifically devised for the Indian masses and it definitely had a powerful rub-off.
Discovery hopes an opportunity such as this will encourage filmmakers and grow the market. Reiterates Aditya P Tripathi, director, marketing, Discovery India, "This project will be a purely Indian production."
Meanwhile, the channel continues to bolster its Discover India property that clocks the highest television ratings among all the programmes on the channel with more India-specific programmes. Premiering on Saturday, which is February 21, 2004, at 9.00 pm is The Patiala Necklace. The Patiala necklace was created by the House of Cartier for Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala in 1928. It was the most expensive piece of jewellery. But the necklace mysteriously disappeared around 1948 till Cartier recovered it five decades later. Set against this historical backdrop, the film, produced by Francoise Gazio, captures three generations of the royal family of Patiala, from Bhupinder Singh, his son Yadavindra Singh to Captain Amarinder Singh, the current chief minister of Punjab. © 2004 agencyfaqs!