Television

Tara aims to be the new star on the regional channel horizon

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It may be down, but it's not yet out. Broadcast Worldwide, which promotes regional language channels Tara is planning to beef up its news programming to stay afloat in the intensely competitive market.

While Tara Bangla has already received a shot in the arm at the beginning of the new year with a variety of localizing initiatives and has started airing 13 hours of fresh programming daily, Tara Marathi is next in line for revival. Sources say a massive investment of upto Rs 1470 million is likely to made for resurrecting Tara Marathi. The government of Maharashtra is likely to be involved in a strategic tie-up that will help Tara Marathi revive from its current somnolent state.

Currently 80 per cent of programming on Tara Marathi is re-runs. But all this will soon change if the joint venture comes through, say sources. The venture has been on the cards for the last six months and if finalized, the results would show in the next two months, they add. Tara Marathi creative director Shobha De said recently that the revamped Tara would focus on rural and folk traditions of Maharashtra and would attempt to "reflect the aspirations of the common Maharashtrian."

Although Broadcast Worldwide Business Development director Pradipto Sircar is unwilling to divulge details of the proposed tie-up, he says programming on Tara Marathi will anyway be beefed up with a focus on news programmes in the next couple of months. "Instead of concentrating on Mumai, we are looking at the rest of Maharashtra, where we have a strong viewer base," he says. The channel, which started with novel programming like telecast of well known Marathi plays (a weak point with Maharashtrian viewers), could not keep up the tempo due to dearth of returns on investments. While the channel is languishing behind Alpha, ETV and DD Sahyadri, the channel reaches 80 per cent of the population in the rest of the state, Sircar says.

However, with the Tara Bangla experiment working well, he is upbeat about Marathi and shortly, Tara Gujarati. With Tara Bangla, BWW has tried a novel tack. It has tied up with Rainbow, which provides Khas Khabar, local news for the Bangla speaking populace, apart from movies, antakshari and sports programmes. Tara Bangla is also the first regional channel to provide local Hindi news in the late night slot, for viewers who are not too conversant with the local language, but need local news. Similar arrangements are likely to be in the pipeline for Tara Marathi, which will feature local news, right from the gram panchayat level up. The company has already had a rationalizing exercise, and is now down to a far slimmer 150 from a grossly over manned 400. 

While Tara Punjabi will be the last of the four to be revived, Sircar says it will eventually be a news, music and Gurbani channel.

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