UTV deal with CNN indiadotcom extended for 20 episodes

The Ronnie Screwvala-promoted UTV Entertainment - which produces two of CNN International's "made in India" programmes - has extended its production contract for CNN indiadotcom for another 20 episodes.

CNN indiadotcom had completed 31 episodes at the end of May when the contract was extended. The original contract with UTV was for 40 episodes, executive producer Jaya Mahajan has said.

CNN indiadotcom is presented by Anish Trivedi and covers every aspect of information technology. The weekly show looks at the information technology (IT) industry and how it affects both corporate and personal lives and bring viewers expert opinions, interviews and the latest news on this rapidly-growing industry. CNN indiadotcom has a team of three reporters in Mumbai, one in Bangalore, one in Delhi, two in Hyderabad and two in Chennai, Mahajan said.

When queried about the ubiquitous TRPs, Mahajan said the issues at stake for niche programmes like CNN indiadotcom were not so much ratings as effective distribution, since it directly affected the programme's reachability.

"They are good just the way they are at the moment. It is unfair at this stage to compare these shows with those on other fairly established channels," Mahajan states.

But the show is catching on and making a difference Mahajan says, citing an instance where the programme had a positive impact while covering the influence of e-network in the rural areas.

"About three months ago we had covered the impact of information technology in the villages," recalls Mahajan. "The programme featured how e-networking was changing the lives of the people in Varna, a district in Maharashtra. Varna had received a special grant from the prime minister's special relief fund to e-enable its network. A programme highlighting this was aired in December. The collector of Dhar district in Madhya Pradesh (central India) happened to watch this programme while he was in Delhi. After noting the changes that IT connectivity had brought about in the villages, it inspired the collector to lead his district towards becoming IT enabled and making it an e-network savvy place.

"A television show should not be only about entertainment, providing information superficially. It is a medium which can bring about changes," says Mahajan, quite satisfied with the impact the programme has had with audiences.

"We are not changing people's lives but sometimes we make a difference, which is what the show is all about," says the 26-year-old executive producer. "You know the work is actually reaching people and the difference is truly being felt."

Queried as to how well the show's presenter Anish Trivedi went down with audiences, Mahajan said: "CNN is an American channel and stands for a certain production quality. Given his background and presentation style, Anish Trivedi comes across as polished, suave and has a bit of credibility behind him." (Trivedi spent 15 years in the investment banking industry - starting as a trader, and moving through various areas including research, mergers & acquisitions, and investment banking. Trivedi was a former partner at the New York-based investment bank, Oppenheimer & Co, Inc., where he served as the firm's director of Indian research, and as country head for India.)

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