Fifth Avenue to distribute, market two channels

MUMBAI: The impending conditional access system (CAS) has definitely changed the rules of the broadcasting and cable business in one way - distribution and marketing functions can now be outsourced by specialised outfits while content developers can concentrate of quality.

Fifth Avenue Media Services (FAMS), perhaps the first business process outsourcing consultancy firm for the broadcasting business (satellite TV to be more precise), has entered into an agreement with Silk Route Media to distribute two new channels Action TV and F&S. FAMS was formed in July 2002 by three industry professionals Achal Mehra, Roland Landers and Gaurav Kohli who are respectively designated as chairman, director-marketing and director-distribution of FAMS.

FAMS bagged its first client Silk Route in January 2003 and is now ready with the initial two offerings (Action TV and F&S). Promoted by a group of Indian entrepreneurs (including Subhash Menon of Reminiscent TV Network) Silk Route is a content provider which will procure the content from broadcasters located around the world and customise it to Indian markets.

FAMS chairman Achal Mehra says: "We are also talking to other networks and broadcasters. Our core strength is our team which has more than a decade of experience in the business - having been involved with the launch of channels such as CNBC, ESPN, Hallmark, AXN, Ftv and DD Sports. We will set up offices in Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and already have appointed 20 other sub-distributors across the country. We are confident that the success of Action TV and F&S will generate several enquiries for FAMS."

Action TV will air action movies, reality shows, adventure sports. It is available on NSS703 (57.0 degrees East; SR FEC SID VPID - 2081; NID - TID Audio - 2082; beam - eastern hemisphere; source updated - D Bamrolia

030314). F&S (Fashion and Style) channel will be launched in two weeks time. F&S will highlight Indian fashion, style, health, fitness, food and spirituality. The fashion and style channel will not necessarily focus on ramps but will also have highlight male etiquette style; offer vignettes of Indian weddings such as accessories, garments and jewellery.

Mehra says that the CAS regime has ensured that the industry accepts BPO entrants such as FAMS. "In our business there are four key target audiences - viewers, cable operators, advertisers and media. We have the requisite experience in dealing with all of them. Also, the content developers can focus on their core competency if the distribution and marketing functions are outsourced."

Will the broadcasters accept the new entrants? "From the broadcasters point of view, a firm such as FAMS can be advantageous: save costs on in-house resources; piggy-back on the long-term expertise of the consultants; and will be able to give 100 per cent attention to quality content," adds Mehra.

FAMS is offering Action TV (Rs 6) and F&S (Rs 3) at Rs 9. FAMS director Kohli claims that they have managed to get a positive response from the cable trade. "We have managed to get a good response even from operators all over India including places in the North-East, Rajasthan right upto Karnataka and Kerala," Kohli says.

Verma adds: "We are also in talks with certain broadcasters who wish to expand their reach and make inroads into the interiors of the country. There will always be a market in India for reasonably priced-fare."

FAMS director-marketing Landers says: "Many foreign broadcasters are eyeing Indian shores and they will be content to adopt the distribution revenue-model route. FAMS is well-geared to cater to their needs. Indian broadcasters are also considering niche offerings which can be distributed to niche audiences." When asked about forthcoming offerings, FAMS director marketing Landers was tight-lipped saying nothing more than 'wait n watch!".

However, market rumours indicate that the future offerings could include a pure kids channels and a vernacular business channel. Till the 'action' unfolds, let us wait-n-watch!

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