Discovery lines up new programmes; Karnik's replacement still not decided

When Kiran Karnik took the reins at Discovery India in mid-1995 his mission was to drive the channel's penetration into the unknown terrain that made up India's cable TV viewing population. Today, that has been achieved to a large extent and as he prepares to hand over charge sometime in May, the channel is attempting further forays with a line-up of new programmes.

It was to drive the point across to the advertising world that a meeting for the fraternity was called at a south Mumbai hotel on Friday. The channel made a presentation on the potential that is there for advertisers.

According to the figures dished out, Discovery has greatly widened its audience reach following its recent tie-up with national broadcaster Doordarshan. Discovery now has a penetration of 18 million cable homes while sister channel Animal Planet reaches 6.5 million homes across India.

"Discovery's tie-up with Doordarshan early this year bilingually in Hindi and English is a step toward reaching a wider audience," Ambika Shrivastava, vice-president, marketing and sales said. The recent earthquake that devastated Gujarat state has driven people's need to learn more about the phenomenon, Shrivastava said. "Curiosity, knowledge, and exploring the world around us is what people look forward to and that is what Discovery Channel and Animal Planet intend to give them," she said.

Discovery's special series on earthquakes telecast in the first week of February has received a good response, Shrivastava said, while announcing the forthcoming lineup of programmes. A lineup which includes "The Raging Planet" and "Ancient Earthquakes and Sunken Cities".

Shrivastava also pointed out that the channel was reaching out to schools with quiz based programmes. "Discovery channel annually hosts an all-India quiz where students from 18 cities all over the country participate, she said.

On the issue of who will take over from Karnik, however, there was no word. "Discovery is still looking for somebody to head the organisation. Mr Karnik is still on the board and will be guiding the channel till they find somebody," was all that the corporate communications team could say when the subject was broached.

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