Telethon concert Help! gets overwhelming response

MUMBAI: What a night. And the fact that it was for a great cause made it even better. The 'HELP! Telethon Concert': an event that brought together television and film stars in aid of the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster was a resounding success.

Billed as the biggest ever fund raiser in South Asia, the concert, organized by the Film and Television Producers Guild of India in association with the Indian film and television industry, was held at the MMRDA grounds at the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai on 6 February. All proceeds from the effort went towards the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund a/c HELP.

At the time of filing this report 80,000 SMS pledges had been logged that raised Rs 800,000 (Rs 10 per SMS). On HelpTelethon.Org, viewers could also bid as part of this unique and unprecedented experience. Among the bids the event had logged in thus far: High tea with Bollywood superstar Aishwarya Rai (Rs 1.5 million), a gym session with hunk Sunjay Dutt (Rs 710,000), a meal with the Bachchans (Rs 500,000) and a day with Shahrukh Khan for Rs 200,000.

The six-hour mega concert was simulcast live across news channels and will air across all Hindi entertainment channels on 12 February.

News channels that participated in the telethon were DD News, Aaj Tak, NDTV 24X7, NDTV India, Star News, Zee News, CNBC and Sahara Samay.

Not all the news channels, however, dedicated their full telecast time towards the effort. Some like DD News, Star News and NDTV Profit were almost solely airing the telethon and dipping in and out for other news. Other channels were doing the reverse --- dipping in and out for bytes from the concert.

The entertainment channels participating on 12 February are DD, Star Plus, Star One, Star Utsav, Star Gold, Star Vijay, Channel [V], SET, Max, Zee TV, Sab TV, MTV and Zoom.

Queried about the amounts raised through television advertising, Star India senior vice president-ad sales, Joy Chakkraborthy, said a proper picture would only be known after 8 February, since the spots were also being sold for the 12 February recorded telecast. Star India is managing the ad sales effort for the event for all the channels.

A special song entitled HELP! composed by Anu Malik and the lyrics penned by Prasoon Joshi was also in the agenda. The album will be released by T-series.

Multiple agencies are also contributing their services pro bono to ensure success of the endeavour.

It doesn't get bigger than this. Just how big is what everyone is looking forward to seeing.

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