Zee to spruce up programming with new shows

NEW DELHI/MUMBAI: What would you do if the programmes on your channel are good, but fail to create the buzz that the rival's do? Of course, try creating hype around them. And that's exactly what the Subhash Chandra-promoted Zee Telefilms' flagship channel Zee TV is attempting to do.

Jividha and Aroona Irani in Tum Bin Jaaoon Kahan that launches 12 October at 9.30 pmWith a khwaish (desire) to dethrone the No 1, Zee TV has acquired some of the biggest Bollywood blockbusters and lined up some new serials and is making a splash with them, including having press conferences in New Delhi where oomph babe Mallika Sherawat interacts with the audience. Whether her debut film Khwaish --- the movie that features 17 smooches and her --- would be retained in full on the small screen, the channel is not saying.

Jividha and Vikas Bhalla in Tum Bin Jaaoon Kahan

"We have acquired some of the newest Hindi movies to be aired via Airtel Thursday Premiere and are hoping that they'd be as much of a sellout as the earlier ones," Zee TV president Apurva Purohit said on Monday at a press conference in Delhi on Monday to announce the channel's new programming strategy.

Airtel has come in as the presenting sponsor for the newest lot of Hindi movies.

Rohit Roy and Ayesha Jhulka in Kabhi Kabhi that launches 9 October at 8 pm

The films that are slated to be aired on Zee TV include already-running -in the-theatres flicks like Darna Mana Hain and Chalte Chalte, amongst others like Priyadarshan's comedy Hungama, Amitabh Bachchan-Anil Kapoor starrer Armaan, Chori Chori and Ek Aur Ek Gyarah. According to Purohit, global satellite telecast rights of some of the films like Chalte Chalte have been acquired enabling the network to air them in countries like the UK and the US where Zee has a presence. Approximately an additional 60 brands have also come on board the Zee platform since the Thursday Premiere launched last year, including FMCG MNC Hindustan Levers, which had shunned Zee for nearly two years, Purohit said on Tuesday.

But the Thursday films can only get in the audience, not retain them. To cover its flanks, Zee TV has been lining up some good serials and weekend programmes.

Bhagyashree and Rajesh Khera in Kabhi Kabhi

As part of that initiative, Zee TV will launch two of its mega shows to celebrate the festive season of October. To begin with, the channel will unveil a mega show produced by Aroona Irani, Tum Bin Jaaoon Kahan from 12 October at 9:30 pm daily from Sunday to Wednesday. Next, a new and innovative show,Kabhie Kabhie, a series short stories, will air every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:00 pm.

According to Purohit, "Zee TV has been consistently drawing viewers through its innovative shows right from Jeena Issi Ka Naam Hain to Antakshari, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa and contemporary serials like Astitva. We have always believed in showcasing something different for our viewers. Introducing shows like Tum Bin.., Kabhie Kabhie and the new lineup of blockbusters on Thursday Premiere will definitely excite our viewers." 

She also added, "With Tum Bin..., a show produced by Aroona Irani, viewers will surely get some fresh entertainment. Today viewers are conscious as to what they want to watch and they demand different programmes, which breaks the mould. With serials like Tum Bin... and Kabhie Kabhie, we would like to the break the predictable pattern followed by others."

Speaking on the occasion, Aroona Irani, the well known Bollywood celebrity and producer of the show said, "I am happy and excited to showcase Tum Bin Jaoon Kahan on Zee TV and am quite sure that viewers will enjoy watching the new serial. While producing this serial, I have been closely associated with Zee TV and now there is an emotional connect with the channel."

But Purohit is, of course, bullish that these programmes would not only create the buzz, but also bring in the much-needed TRPs that can be flaunted to the world too.

"We, like the industry, had an issue with the TRPs because of the methodology of TAM. But some of the concerns have been redressed. If you study the TAM data, then you'd see that we are very strong amongst women viewers in prime time," she said, pointing out that programmes like Astitva have retained good TRPs.

However, she reiterated that having got the women of the household within the Zee TV fold, it's time to attract the males and the kids too --- a fact that she had opined in an interview with some months back been started and some weekend thrillers are in the pipeline, pre-dominantly aimed at male viewers.

Purohit admits that during the last quarter, Zee Telefilms' advertising revenue had declined, while the subscription revenue had upped. "We feel that by the end of the current financial year ad revenue too would have picked up having got over the residual effect of the cricket World Cup (held earlier this year)," she added optimistically, adding that hopefully in this recovery of ad revenues it would be Zee TV that would lead the way.

For the first quarter of financial year 2003-04 ended June 2003, Zee Telefilms subscription revenue was Rs 1,428 million showing an increase of 40.5 per cent as compared to the corresponding period last fiscal. Advertisement revenue was Rs 1,212 million, lower by 13.4 per cent as compared to the corresponding period last fiscal. Domestic subscription revenue was Rs 512 million, an increase of 68.4 per cent as compared to the corresponding period last fiscal.

The company had ended financial year 2002 with a net profit of Rs 2600 million, a jump of 35 per cent over last year, and a turnover of Rs 1,2000 million.

Can Star Plus be dethroned from the top spot as Purohit and gang are expecting? We'll have to wait and Zee

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