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Cannes Diary : India on their minds...

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Just what have the Indian contingent been up to at MIPTV 2005? One thing that stands out is that stall presence is minimal. Sony Entertainment India is about the only well-known name around from among the broadcasters. Star India is under the Fortune Star label so does that count? Can't say. As for Disney India, it is submerged, so to speak, within the main Disney pavilion (as it should be considering that it is just starting out in India).

There are two film content distributors at MIPTV in Kishore Lulla's Eros International and Madhu Entertainment. 2004 was a pretty bad year for the film distributors in large measure due to the poor quality of films released we are told. Revenues tanked a whopping 80 per cent and for 'independent' players like Madhu, it's getting increasingly tough going.

The avenues to leverage content are also limited to video and terrestrial TV release (and even that is reducing since the broadcasters are picking up whatever movie rights are available to all the big titles).

For the broadcasters though business is steadily growing.

According to SET India COO NP Singh, what is becoming evident is the increasing interest coming in from non-traditional Diaspora territories. Though the main interest remains in Bollywood-centric products (as in film titles and Bollywood-related events). After that it is 'traditional' soaps that are grabbing the most attention. Singh mentioned Heena, Kkusum, Kanyadaan (an old Balaji offering from way back in 2000-2001). Extending that logic, hot products from Star would remain perennial favourites Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi and Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki.

And inquiries are coming in from the oddest places - Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan and Vietnam - to name a few. Indiantelevision.com got some enquiries from a channel head from Nigeria and a content aggregator from Holland looking to introduce time bands dedicated to offerings from India that will cater to viewers originally from South Asia.

 

SEEN AND HEARD

Siddhartha Basu's Synergy Communications may be doing Bluff Master, the adaptation of Distraction Formats' Dirty Rotten Cheaters on Star One, but it's Abhimanyu Singh of Contiloe Films who has been meeting with the Distraction folk, scouting content.

The Celador stall is gloomy on the Indian front. "Star is only talking about the second part of Kaun Banega Crorepati (the Indianised version of Celador's Who Wants to be a Millionaire?)," shrug Celador officials. But yes, Sony is talking to them, though no deals have been struck yet.

Hit Entertainment, makers of Pingu and Bob, have been getting a lot of Indian visitors, among them UTV's Hungama, Percept (for Sahara One) and of course, Cartoon Network, which is likely to acquire a fresh season of Bob the Builder.

E! Entertainment already has a presence on Zoom, but isn't likely to add to it at this MIPTV, at least. But AXN has been buying some glamour and lifestyle shows for India, we hear.

Deutsche Welle, a benign and relatively negligible presence in India so far, but may also aggro - not selling its content though, but by hopping onto a platform - could be Doordarshan or could be Zee. Talks are still on.

If there is any Indian broadcaster that is aggressively picking up content at MIPTV it is Zee TV. Not just for the cable side but also for its DTH platform for which it is ramping up its channel offerings.

One such is the French-based urban music channel Trace TV, the official launch announcement for which will be made in the capital on 22 April and in Mumbai on 23 April.

The two-year-old Trace now has a presence in 60 countries worldwide and 15 in Asia (excluding India).

TECH'S GREAT, BUT WHAT ABOUT PROGRAMMING

This is an issue that has not just struck Indiantelevision.com but we've caught snatches of similar comments from other participants as well. While there is no getting away from the overarching dominance of technology in all the discussions at MIPTV, it is a bit surprising that about the only time devoted to programming per se was an hour on Tuesday during the session Fresh TV Around The World  The Spring-Summer Collection.

While everyone who spoke was quite categorical that content tailored to individual viewers needs would become paramount, no one really offered much by way of what forms this content might take and what were the trends as far as successful programming concepts from different parts of the world were concerned. The era of broadcasting would in the near future have to make way for narrowcasting which would mean content and channels targeting ever smaller and focused audience groups and communities (much in the way radio works internationally, though not in India) is what we are told. What sort of content are we looking at now and in the near future. We certainly would like some indicators, and we're sure there are many more like us.

THE SUN IS OUT AT LAST

Wednesday was bright and sunny on the French Riviera as Thursday was but all that overwhelming technology buzzing round the ears hardly gave one the time or opportunity to soak it all in. Still, one can't complain as the climate is finally living up to its April billing.

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