Star World plans a rejig to capture family audience

MUMBAI: Star World, the English entertainment channel, is making a conscious effort to become more India-specific and has announced a whole new programming strategy.



A Still from Goodness Gracious Me

The revamped channel, which will make its debut on 5 May 2003 includes an exclusive two hour Indian-English band every Sunday from 8-10 pm. The band consists of shows like UK's hottest comedy series, Kumars at No. 42 that airs at 8 pm, new episodes of Rendezvous with Simi Garewal at 8:30 pm, Goodness Gracious Me at 9 p m and Top Drive at 9:30 pm.

Kumar's at No. 42 is a BBC2 comedy series that combines a chat show with a sitcom, which centres around Mr and Mrs Kumar who have built their son Sanjeev a TV studio at the back of their house from where he hosts a chat show, with his parents and man-lusting granny Sushila (played by director Meera Syal who has also directed Anita & me and Bombay Dreams). Sanjeev's awkward encounters with new celebrities week on week, a tour of the house and some unseen footage have made this show the talk of the town with US network NBC buying the format in a 6m deal, states a release.

The new episodes of Rendezvous with Simi Garewal include a two part series on the Asian Mozart, A R Rehman, followed by heart-to-heart chats with model and actress Bipasha Basu and supercop Kiran Bedi.

The channel will also showcase its prime catch - The Michael Jackson Interview: The footage you were never meant to see, a rebuttal to Martin Bashir's Living with Michael Jackson documentary, shot by one of his employees that will vindicate him. The other specials lined up for the month include concerts such as Zubin Mehta in Mumbai, An audience with Ricky Martin and Michael Jackson: 30th anniversary celebration, the solo years.

In addition , the channel will air new seasons of Angel, The Practice, Dharma & Greg, Ally McBeal, Whose Line is it anyway, Charmed, NYPD Blues and Buffy the Vampire slayer .

"A whole lot of rescheduling and programming has been done to give a whole new dimension to the channel. The decision to focus on the Indian Diaspora is based on feedback, research and internal brainstorming sessions. Kumars at 42 a popular British comedy which got rave reviews has been brought down especially for our viewers. The show has also been exported to the US as well," Tarun Katial, Star India senior V-P programming content & communication, told

Some of the other attractions in store for the viewers is a documentary on Prince William, which will be aired early June, informed Katial.

" We will be rolling out a whole new marketing campaign centred around the revamp from 5 May. We have tied -up with Barista for the on-ground promotions. We will also be advertising on radio and the Internet. There'll be contests as well," Katial said.

Interestingly, while the afternoon strip on the revamped channel has been programmed specifically for women with shows like Bold & the Beautiful and Oprah Winfrey Show , the evening strip from 5 pm to 6 pm has been tailored to cater to the youth. It will include shows like thriller and adventure series Knight Rider. The late evening band (6 pm to 8 pm) on the other hand will comprise comedies like The Simpsons, Everybody loves Raymond, Dharma & Greg and Friends. Also, not to ignore the male population the channel will air Baywatch. On Saturday the channel will air action packed thriller series like Mutant X, TNA wrestling, Xena: The Warrior princess and Walker Texas Ranger, Cops.

Though, what remains to be seen is if the special India specific band gets the desired response, it is plain to see that the channel is out to harness complete family viewership with special bands catering to women, men and the youth. One can only wait and watch if the rejig reaps fruitful returns for the channel.

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