Tara Marathi to start distance learning programmes

The revamped Tara Marathi is ready for the second phase of its relaunch with a slew of new programmes and novel concepts that kick off 13 May.

Prime among these is a distance learning programme in collaboration with the Indian Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai. For the first time, the institute has tied up with a television channel to offer certificate courses in cooking and baking through a six week crash course. The course will be conducted through half hour episodes four and two times a week respectively, at the end of which applicants will take examinations at specially designated centres in Mumbai, Pune and Goa before being granted certificates. While the cookery and bakery crash courses will be followed by regular 13 week courses in the same subjects, the channel is also toying with the idea of starting English speaking courses in collaboration with another reputed institute.

The concept is the brainchild of Sapna Chaturvedi, managing director of Eternal Dreams, the company that has taken over the task of revamping the programming, marketing and distribution of the ailing Marathi satellite channel. Tara Marathi is part of the four channel bouquet offered by the Rathikant Basu promoted Broadcast Worldwide. While BWW recently handed over operations of Tara Bangla to independent agency Rainbow, Eternal Dreams, that has handled ad sales for various channels thus far, has taken over the entire running of Tara Marathi. "We want to concentrate on expanding the viewers' choice. We are sure that if the Marathi viewer is given the opportunity and the quality, he will shift from Hindi channels to Marathi", she says. The afternoon slot for the distance education shows are meant as a respite from the soap and serial routine on all other channels. The fee of Rs 895 for the courses covers a book and a kit for the entire course, she says.

Since the relaunch on 17 March, Chaturvedi has introduced, apart from a new logo and signature tune, a variety of new programming - including dubbed versions of B R Chopra's Mahabharat, Ramanand Sagar's Ramayan, Jai Shri Krishna and Jai Ganga Maiyya. Chaturvedi says she is not interested in picking winning strategies from rivals Alpha and ETV and is instead concentrating on building a distinctive image for Tara. Ironically, however, the show that has picked up best in the ratings game is 'Teesara Dola', a thriller that has been earlier telecast on Doordarshan Sahyadri. Eternal Dreams has already sunk in Rs 10 million in the 50:50 joint venture with BWW for turning around Tara Marathi. While novel shows like Atmakatha ( that chronicles the life stories of well known Marathi artistes) and Abhimaan ( which profiles young Marathi achievers) are slowly picking up, Chaturvedi says the channel already has over 30 advertisers on board.

The channel is now planning ground events in five or six cities in the state to promote the new look in the next 10 days; apart from the hoardings and press publicity that has been pressed into service.

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