UTV sets up non-fiction TV division, looks to international co-productions

In a reflection of the importance that the Ronnie Scewvala-promoted UTV attaches to the "nonfiction area", it has formed a separate division (set up a month ago) to give it the right focus.

UTV's nonfiction division sees international business as a major focus area. Satya Mahapatra, GM Nonfiction Television, who heads the the division says: "We already have two international CO-productions in our bag. We are doing a series for Discovery Canada entitled "Working Animals". We have just finished six episodes and are starting work on six more. We are starting pre-production on a 26-part 'Travel and Cuisine series for a North American channel, with an approximate budget of $1.5 million. We will also co-own the rights of these and build an international library."

"We are in active discussion with seven broadcasters in Europe, USA and Canada for unique shows on various Asian themes and we hope to conclude at least three of them in the next two months," Mahapatra says.

With a client list that includes Disney, Nickelodeon, Discovery, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros. plus almost every broadcaster in South East Asia, UTV has clear strengths to launch an international onslaught in nonfiction areas, a company release says. An international client base and its strategic alliance with News Corporation gives a lot of synergy in the Western market and a lot of credibility to their marketing, the release says.

Other advantages that UTV has are full fledged production facilities in Singapore and Malaysia which enables it to cater to a Pan Asian show rather than just an Indian show. The other languages that UTV offers co-production opportunities are Mandarin, Cantonese and Bahasa Malay.

Concludes Satya: "We expect 40 per cent of our revenues in television, in the next two to three years time to come from international work and nonfiction that will be an important part of that product mix."

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