Television

Raj TV 'Friday Blockbusters' to start in April

MUMBAI: After Zee's Thursday Premieres, it is time for "Friday Blockbusters" down south as Raj Television Network is planning to launch Velliminnalgal superhit feature films from 7 April 2003. These films will be shown at 8:01 pm and the list includes the latest blockbuster releases featuring Tamil superstars Kamal Haasan, Vijayakanth and Prashanth.

During the next quarter, the network will launch a Telugu channel Vissa TV (expected in June) and also has plans for a news channel which will commence operations by end-2003.

The Friday Blockbuster Velliminnalgal will also coincide with the Tamil New Year in April which will be celebrated by a film (Vallarasu) starring superstar Vijayakanth.

Raj Television Network head - national sales B Shankar spoke to indiantelevision.com about the new initiative. "We have lined an impressive list of films such as Kamal Hassan's Tenali, Vijayakanth's Vallarasu, Prashant's Parthenrasiten and 5-Star amongst others. Raj TV will create waves by showing these blockbusters as something like this has never been attempted on the Tamil cable and satellite TV industry," Shankar said.

The network will increase "noise levels" by backing the Friday Blockbusters with a multi-media campaign estimated to be in the region of Rs 7 million. "We have finalised 50 hoarding sites all across Tamil Nadu. We will also advertise in print - Daily Thanti, Dina Malar and The Hindu to some extent. For the first time, Raj TV will use radio FM for the promotional campaign," says Shankar.

Market buzz also indicates that Raj Television Network is on the verge of finalising its ad agency and Mudra seems to be a leading contender. In fact, Hindustan Lever has already signed up as the title sponsor for the Friday Blockbuster.

Raj TV is also gearing up to introduce other new offerings in the post cricket World Cup phase. In fact, it was buoyed by the fairly decent ratings for films such as 12B (aired on 7 March) and Ninaikatha Nallillai (aired on 14 March) which coincided with the World Cup. Advertisers such as Reckitt Benkiser and Paras had supported the March films.

Channel officials claim to have conducted a coup of sorts by roping in ace director K Balachander (Minbinbingal Productions) to direct a daily soap called Rekkai Kattiyamanasu. This will be aired every day between Monday and Thursday at 8:30 pm. Officials claim that Raj TV's existing soap Gitanjali (8 pm to 8:30 pm), an AVM productions, is already scaling peaks of popularity and is one of the top programmes on the channel.

"Balachander is returning to the small screen after a long gap. The family soap is the biggest daily in terms of scale, production values and has been extensively shot all over India," says Shankar, who remains tight-lipped about the storyline.

Raj TV has also tied up with Jayashree Pictures, said to be close to super-star Rajnikanth, to produce a first-of-its-kind family suspense serial called Ennsattaninda Neram. This daily will be aired at 9 pm between Monday and Thursday.

There are also plans to refurbish the quality of the afternoon slot and also the morning slot. Channel officials confirm that they have tied up with a leading national production house to create a breakfast programme in the 6:30 am-9 am slot. The programme will showcase interesting aspects of cultural hotspots in Tamil Nadu; issues related to health and fitness; problems faced by the common man; and feature celebrities in the world of performing arts.

By July-end or the first week of August, the network will conduct its annual event - Mudalvan Awards - wherein the top students of class X and XII will be felicitated. "This is into its fourth year in succession and we have gained tremendous mileage from the earlier ones. Eminent personalities such as MK Stalin and J Krishnamoorthy have attended the function as chief guests," says Shankar.

As regards Raj TV's new Telugu channel, Vissa TV, it will be a free-to-air channel and will be beamed via Thaicom satellite.

The channel has reportedly earmarked an initial investment of Rs 500 million for the new channel with around Rs 250 million to be pumped in the coming months.

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