Channels seek clarity, relevance from animation producers

MUMBAI: One of the sessions at Frames focused on what content channels like Cartoon Networks, Disney expect from the production houses and studios.

Walt Disney Television International (South East Asia/Korea) VP, MD Raymund Miranda said, "From an editorial perspective the first thing that goes into our minds is does the product you are pitching fit the Disney brand? The Disney brand is family oriented and trustworthy. We have to be custodians of our brand

"The second tick mark is relevance to kids. For instance for our preschool block we check to see if the social and mechanical skills of the child are being addressed. We follow the principle of the whole child curriculum here. The third criteria are the brand values of the proposition being made by the production house. What is the story like? How is it being told? This includes not just the animation quality but also the dubbing, editing. The product should be able to occupy a special place in the heart of our viewers."

Turner Entertainment Networks Asia executive director programming and acquisitions Marc Buhaj said, "The product must be relevant to the 4-14 year block. I also urge the production houses to study the channels before pitching their products. That way they will get an idea of the direction the channels are moving in and what the different requirements are. The stories should also spark with positive and creative qualities. We also expect that the producer would have fully fleshed out the story idea in terms of the script, the pilot episodes before making the pitch."

He elaborated on how Cartoon Network works within different cultural contexts. For in the Philippines the American cultural context is prevalent. Therefore shows that succeeded in the US generally fare well there as well. Taiwan has the Japanese cultural context. "So you have Japanese anime like the Miyaki series. In Australia we get more bold and mischievous. For the Queen's birthday we had our characters not wearing pants. In India launching Pogo allowed to work on the live action platform like the movie Harry Potter. The name Cartoon Network implies just cartoons and nothing else."

Miranda said that Disney has had success working with local producers in Hong Kong on the interstitial video production Legends of the King of Fire. Each interstitial lasted for around five minutes. Channel ratings went up by 67 per cent and it is now being adopted by other markets. Buhaj added that choosing shows was not just a matter of whether it had enough legs. Scheduling becomes important. "We identify hot spots like Diwali and plan around them. Also when the kids have exams we do not plan premieres."

Publishing firm Mallard Media Services' Margaret Donald said that channels had a social responsibility towards kids. "I am disturbed that a lot of violence is being fed to kids under the action tag. Simplicity and integrity are key ingredients that go towards making a classic brand. There is a need for more wholesome material. We are looking to partner with Indian production companies."

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