Television

Cable fraternity gives One Alliance the thumbs up

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MUMBAI: It was a hip 'n' happening night where bellies shook and the cable fraternity had a blast courtesy the SET-Discovery One Alliance.



If the enthusiastic reactions of the crowd were any indication of how the One Alliance distribution bouquet is viewed, then SET India CEO Kunal Dasgupta and company must have gone to bed with big grins on their faces.



The occasion was a grand One Bash organised by the One Alliance in Juhu in suburban Mumbai last night. The One Alliance was formed last year between Sony and Discovery and now boasts of seven channels. The bash saw around 500 cable operators having a blast, courtesy loud Indipop music and gyrating belly dancers. Altogether, 20 trophies were presented to MSOs, big and small, including biggies like IndusInd Media, Hathway and smaller operators like Sarkar Cable.



Speaking on the occasion, Shantonu Aditya who heads the One Alliance said, "We wanted to put up a grand show to thank the cable operators for all the efforts they have made in extending our reach. Of course, the World Cup in March saw us become the number one distribution network at that time. There is no hidden agenda behind this party. We just want them to have a good time and let them know that we appreciate what they are doing."



Aditya also sought to downplay market talk that another channel like Ten Sports or MTV would be joining the bouquet in the near future. "It is premature to talk about that," he said.



The biggest coup of the night for the One Alliance screened an AV where heads of different cable companies gave the thumbs up to the One Alliance. Seen in the Av were Hathway CEO K Jayaraman, INCableNet's Ram Hingorani, 7 Star's Shamim Shaikh and the Shiv Sena backed Cable Operators and Distributors Association president and head of Dattatray Cable Anil Parab, among others. Comments went like this. "It has different shades of colour. The mix of English movies, Hindi movies, news, Hindi general entertainment shows ensures that the entire family is taken care of."



Another cable op said," I admire the way in which the channels are programmed. The professionals working at the One Alliance are on the same wavelength as us and so we are more comfortable working with them than with any other bouquet that Indian television has to offer. Ek saath Ek Manzil Ek Dum."



One area where the One Alliance has had great success with the cable fraternity is with Max's brand ambassador Kapil Dev. The former cricketer had travelled the country prior to the cricket World Cup earlier this year, seeking their blessings. Last night, he appeared early on in the show and said, "Many years ago when I used to go abroad to the UK or the US, I used to see 50-100 channels on television there. I used to wonder when India would see this kind of activity. Today, the consumer is spoilt for choice and it is entirely due to your efforts. You'll have played a big hand in making the industry what it is without any government help or outside aid." Needless to add, another of Max's attractions Mandira Extraaa Innings Bedi was greeted with roars of approval. Mandira was quite the belle of the ball what with star-struck cable ops asking for autographs and quite a few of them offering her roses.



Last night, each of the seven channels had their own stall put up along with information kits. Surprisingly, executives from Discovery, NDTV, HBO were nowhere to be seen. A highlight of the programme were the co-hosts of AXN's Extreme Dhamaka reality initiative Salil Acharya and Deepica Sarma.



They gave the cable crowd an in-your-face feeling of what the action oriented brand was all about, by inviting some of them on stage to perform simple dares. One involved drinking tequila with one's hands clasped behind. Of course, prizes were distributed courtesy the various channels throughout the evening.



All in all, for the Indian television industry it was extremely positive to see broadcasters and cable ops coming together to have fun. For one night at least the vexed issues like under-declaration, increases in subscription rates, signal switch-offs over non payment of dues and conditional access were kept under wraps.

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