Television

Asianet records 20% growth; plans strategic associations

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MUMBAI: Malayalam regional language channel Asianet has recorded a turnover of Rs 600 million during 2003-2004, up 20 per cent from its previous year's Rs 500 million.

Asianet vice president, programming, Sreekantan Nair attributed Asianet's growth to various innovative programming strategies the channel adopted during 2003-2004.

During a tête-à-tête with Indiantelevision.com, Nair also revealed the channel's plans to associate with major TV software firms for serial and film production.

"During 2003-2004, we revamped our programming line up with various innovative shows including soaps with offbeat themes, live game shows and music programmes, chat shows covering sensational topics and quality comedy programmes," said Nair.

He said, the channel's persistent efforts to keep the Malayali flavour alive in all its programmes also worked to the channel's advantage. Nair claimed that most of the creative talents in Kerala were with Asianet.

Nair said the channel had been aggressively promoting the 3 pm - 6 pm time slot of late by placing new productions in that non-peak time period, irrespective of the fact that the strategy has been triggering financial losses.

Nair hinted that the channel would be soon coming up with some "unusual" productions that cater to all age groups, in its effort to beat competition from other channels.

According to the latest channel share figures released by TAM (Kerala 1 Mn + towns during 23 May to 19 June), Asianet holds 43 per cent against its nearest rival Surya's 38 per cent. Asianet's news and current affairs channel Asianet News holds 4 per cent channel share.

Talking about the channel's plans to associate with major television software firms, Nair said the effort is to improve the production quality by tapping the services of maximum number of professionals.

"We are in talks with the prominent firms in the field. The effort is to use their services for producing movies and other programmes," said Nair.

Asianet has produced six films in Malayalam after venturing into the film production business three years ago. Nair said that the channel had definite plans for its film production ventures. He declined to divulge more on this saying discussions are still going on.

Nair expressed his doubts about the feasibility of a movie channel in Malayalam and ruled out any chance of Asianet going for one.

"In fact, running a movie channel is very difficult now as lesser number of films are being produced in Malayalam these days. On an average, the total Malayalam films available for acquisition in a year come to around 60. When it is distributed among channels including Asianet, what each one would get comes to 20 to 25 films only," said Nair.

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