Star to launch Star One by October end

NEW DELHI: Star India is all set to launch its new channel, Star One, towards the end of October and the profile of the channel can be described as almost "Star World in Hindi."

Speaking to on the sidelines of a press conference today to announce two new shows on Star Plus, Star India COO Sameer Nair said, "Work on the new channel is underway at present and it would be unveiled with at least 25 new programmes."

Asked what sort of programming would be seen on Star One, Nair, without divulging the exact nature of programming, said, "In a nutshell it (the proposed channel) could be described as Star World in Hindi. Most of the programming would be of that type."Quizzed further on the issue, Nair said, "By and large, programmes on Star Plus, the flagship channel, had revolved round the family, but Star One fare would be of a different milieu --- outside the ambit of the family."

For example, one such programming, under production, revolves round the legal profession, but cannot be "termed a courtroom drama."

Existing and some new producers are doing the programmes for Star One, though Balaji Telefilms, Star's most favoured production house, is producing only one show in the present crop of 25 new shows. Rose, which came up with Jeet on Star Plus, is also producing a show for Star One.

The line-up is being attempted in such way for Star One that at least six months of programming is almost ready so that airtime could be sold in bulk and in advance for those six months.

According to Nair, "Unlike Star Plus where we unveil new shows almost every quarter, for the new channel, programme changes would be made on a six-monthly basis." However, he also added that selling of airtime for Star One has not started yet.

Star Plus, arguably India's No. 1 Hindi entertainment channel, is also likely to re-introduce the now-legendary and path-breaking game show, Kaun Banega Crorepati, (KBC) sometime in May 2005 on a four-times-a-week basis.

"If the shooting for KBC starts in April next, depending on Mr. Amitabh Bachchan's dates, the show can be put on air in May as we do give a lot of importance to the immediacy factor," Nair said.

Though some innovations are being planned --- like an improved interactivity through SMS on cell phones and an increased prize money for participants --- Nair feels that the actual jackpot for the game show is likely to remain Rs. 10 million. More so as Bachchan, reportedly, is against changing the basic format of the show as it may introduce creeping flippancy in the programme. Bachchan's contract for KBC, according to Nair, is valid for another 85 episodes.

With the flagship channel continuing to retain the No. 1 spot, Star Plus' programming budget for the financial year 2004 (ending June 30, 2005) has been upped by between 15 and 20 per cent.

Nair, of course, refused to divulge the exact figures or hold forth on Star's proposed foray in KU-band DTH television services, which is being done in association with the Tatas and is hanging fire at the information and broadcasting ministry.

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