Viveat Susan Pinto

Disney’s animation channel could go Hindi this year

Toon Disney is available in English, Tamil and Telugu, while The Disney Channel is broadcast in English and Hindi

For close to a decade, young Indians saw Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy and their acolytes mouth Hindi rather than English lines, courtesy the one-hour Hindi block (Disney Hour) that would run on various general entertainment channels in the mornings or evenings.

Of course, with Walt Disney Television International having set up base here in India last year, and subsequently having launched two channels – the live-action Disney Channel and Toon Disney in December ‘04, a 24-hour Hindi feed for the latter didn’t seem to be a far-off possibility. In fact, it is something that the broadcaster has been toying with for some time.

According to company executives, a Hindi feed for Toon Disney may eventually materialise this year. “We are contemplating launching one,” says Nachiket Pantvaidya, head of production and programming at Walt Disney.

This will come in addition to Toon Disney’s English, Tamil and Telugu feeds, while The Disney Channel will continue with its separate Hindi and English telecast.

Launching a Hindi feed for Toon Disney would mean bringing it closer to Indian homes, especially Indian kids, which obviously translates into more viewership.

“Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck – all of these iconic Disney characters are definitely our first connect in the Indian market,” says Pantvaidya. “But apart from them, we are looking at drawing audiences with dubbed movies too.”

Disney, in fact, has plans to telecast big titles this summer including the Hindi versions of 'Lion King' on May 28 and 'Snow White' and 'Pocahontas' next month. These movies will premiere on the live-action Disney Channel, which has three movie slots at 8 am, 6 pm and 9 pm on weekdays and 11 am, 1 pm and 6 pm on weekends.

“Vacations is when we will have our movie onslaught,” says Pantvaidya.

Through movies, Disney hopes to migrate its audience to other key properties on the live-action channel including 'Kim Possible', telecast on weekdays at 5.30 pm and Studio Disney – a half-hour localised block that has celebrity interviews, contests and young anchors – telecast at the same time on weekends.

“Putting an Indian face in every break is our endeavour, and since May 1, the effort is pretty obvious,” he says.

Much of the content on both Disney Channel and Toon Disney is from the broadcaster’s international library, so the innovation per se is in the “creation of the environment” for the channels, promos, campaigns etc.

The tag line for the live-action channel, for instance, is ‘Yahan Bas Apna Jadoo Chalega’, while the big-ticket Lion King has the campaign line going as: ‘Har Dil Mein Hai Ek Lion King’. © 2005 agencyfaqs!

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