Turner spruces Pogo to meet competition

MUMBAI: It's time to gear up for competition, existing and imminent. Pogo, the five month old children's channel from Turner, is ready with phase II of its programming.

Pre-production of five half hour live action shows has already commenced, and the channel has sounded out seven domestic production houses for concepts for original shows. According to Turner International India MD Anshuman Misra, a crack team of professionals to oversee the creative work has already been put into place.

Among Pogo's ambitious localisation initiatives is a decision to ramp up its languaging options, dramatically increasing Hindi on the channel. By the end of 2004, 80 per cent of Pogo's programming will be in Hindi. Currently, Pogo offers two hours of Telugu, but is eyeing Tamil as well.

Pogo, according to Misra, will also introduce an Indianised version of one of the non animated and internationally produced shows already on air on Pogo, and is looking to partner with Indian production houses to remake the show with local talent.

Claming a reach of 15 million cable and satellite homes in India, Pogo has gone a notch higher programming wise by announcing its decision to launch Prime Pogo, a two and half hour block on Fridays that will be anchored by 24 year old Niall Sadh and 22 year old Nisha Lalvani.

Prime Pogo will have its curtain raiser on 28 May, the day the first major acquisition by Turner for Pogo, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, is telecast. Turner has invested heavily in promoting Potter mania, through cable channels, kids' publications, billboards, emails through kids' databases as well as below the line activities like flyer s in cinema halls and a contest that allows the winner a chance to visit England.

The Pogo model, according to Misra has worked well in the first few months of its existence, by garnering a reach of 15 million households to Cartoon Network's 18 million. Derived loosely from the internationally successful Nickelodeon format, Pogo is now flexing its muscles to take on Nick in India, which too has risen from slumber and is armouring its arsenal.

Misra says he would welcome competition, claiming it would help grow the market. For now, of course, he says Pogo's the way to go.

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