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Smile launches first commissioned show 'Laugh Line'

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MUMBAI: Smile TV Zee's DTH offering just went on to cable and satellite through Siticable. It has launched the first of its original shows Laugh Line. In the next four months the channel will have at least eight original shows in its line up.

The channel has tied up with several producers and production houses. However as of now it has not developed an in house team of comedy writers. The above mentioned half hour show will partly be in the form of a question and answer joke session where the anchor who is a theatre artiste takes questions from the audience through SMS, email.

At the beginning some questions could be dummies to create audience awareness. Then you could have spoofs and skits being enacted.

Talking to indiantelevision.com Smile TV business head Abhijit Saxena said, "The channel is also planning to have comedy movies, comedy serials and other different genres within comedy. The aim is to go beyond the sitcom, which is what Indians relate to the most. The investment we make into the channel is not going to be mind boggling. We started off by using library content. Gradually commissioned shows will be introduced. We will execute simple but good ideas as and when they come to us."

Another show for next month will be called Smile News. This weekly will present headlines in a satirical format. One of the shows that is being produced in-house is Hasya Kavi Sammelan. The one-hour special will be presided over by Hindi and Urdu humourists. There will be a contest between poets and literary figures from across the country.

There will also be fillers. One of them will involve a Smile Kid. The naughty and mischievous eight year old's views on life and circumstances are hilarious and larger than life. The channel is also planning to a unique spin to the horoscope concept with Smile Horoscope. This will also be in the Hasya Kavi format. The other commissioned shows in the pipeline include Parliament News, Sheikh Chilly and bloopers of different shows.

Right now Smile is not looking to produce content in regional languages. However as Essel Group's corporate brand development group head Ashish Kaul put it, "Today Indians are used to slapstick comedy. Smile TV is based on the Comedy Central model. Gradually through us, Indians will get a taste of what refined comedy can be. We are also getting inquiries for the channel from other cable operators and soon the channels reach will spread.

Talking about the reason for launching Smile TV Kaul said, "Smile launched last October. There are different tiers and there are different levels of channels present. A large of the DTH bouquet depends on the exclusive channels being offered. That is because the service is niche.

"Since our distribution infrastructure was in place we launched. For a DTH operator like Dish TV if a product is not available for the distributor which the consumer wants he will get turned away and then it is difficult to get him back. A channel that throughout the day offers carefree humour was missing. In Metros and non metros since people live hectic lives and they look forward to laughing."

On the ad front Saxena said that Smile TV was not looking for advertisers immediately. "The intention is that when we have a decent amount of excellent programming on the channel and our distribution reach spreads that is the time we will approach the advertisers.

"Today if I approach an advertiser he will buy me at a discount. Six months down the line if the show is doing really well I will not be able to renegotiate the contract."

As far as FX is concerned, Saxena is not looking to take FX onto cable as the English movie scene was already crowded. In fact there are no plans as of now to take any of the other DTH offerings onto cable. He however said that there was some interest in FX already.

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