B4U set for launch on 6 May

B4U, the music channel, which is making a hard play at finding its place in the crowded channel bazaar in India, is slated to debut tomorrow, 6 May. The satellite: PAS-4. The service: digital and free to air.

The channel is starting with an eight hour original programming band, to be expanded to 12 hours in the not too distant future. Distribution is in the hands of Modi Entertainment Network,which is distributing the three other channels in the B4U bouquet, FTV, MCM and B4U Movies (to be launched in the next two months).

The Benjamin digital receivers which cable operators need to to receive the service are being given away on payment of a Rs 3,000 deposit with the monthly rental being Rs 250. Gupta says they can be bought outright on payment of Rs 13,000. 

B4U CEO Ravi Gupta says the music channel's purpose is to promote its movie channel. Nevertheless, his target is to get B4U Music into 50 per cent of all Indian cable and satellite homes, that is about 14 million. He points that reports are that B4U is available in 60 per cent of all cable and satellite home in the metros, even before its official launch. "Tests have been on for 10-12 days," he points out. 

The veejay line up is believed to have some former Channel V veejays, apart from some new and young faces.

What chances does it have despite its late entry? The regular Indian urban TV viewing home already receives six music channels: Channel V (in the guise of a youth channel), etc, MTV, Music Asia, Channel Oxygen and ITV. The last two are request channels operated by local cable operators. 

Gupta says that the channel is differently positioned as compared to the other channels. "Our Bollywood songs will be whole and not just clips. This apart, we are simply not Bollywood. We have Indipop and fusion music not just from India but from all over the world," says Gupta. "But our plus point is our packaging; it helps us stand out from the rest."

The launch ads, however, are emblazoned with leading Bollywood stars like Govinda and Sunjay Dutt. The ads have stars exhorting them to watch them on B4U Music. 

" B4U Music is designed to appeal to those individuals who are young at heart," says Gupta.

The B4U bouquet has backing from four heavyweights: Kishore Lulla (who is the chairman, and also runs movie rights owner Eros), Bharatbhai Shah (who is heavily into Bollywood productions and is also in the diamond trade), Gokul Binani (a metals businessman) and L.N. Mittal (a steel manufacturer and trader).

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