Television

UTV looking at putting four lifestyle shows on air this year

MUMBAI: One television genre that is catching on in the country is the lifestyle brand. Last year Discovery had launched the Discovery Travel and Living channel. Zoom also launched from the Times stable. Production house UTV is looking to take advantage of this trend.

Speaking last evening to Indiantelevision.com on the sidelines of a shoot for BBC World’s Business Bites UTV CEO Ronnie Screwvalla said, “We are looking at putting on at least four lifestyle shows this year. We are doing a project for Sahara. Overall we do about 22 hours of programming a week. This is the second largest in terms of output that any Indian television producer does. In that mix non-fiction constitutes about four hours. We are also talking to Star regarding doing a lifestyle show.”

Screwvalla added that it was important for UTV to break the mould as far as lifestyle programming is concerned. It is therefore looking to go beyond the page three phenomenon. “I however don’t believe that the lifestyle segment will mature in 2005. Maturing takes time. As a genre it is quite new. Even Hindi films are taking time to mature from just being about pure entertainment. The audience may not immediately take to lifestyle shows but it does not mean that you don’t do it. If you continuously produce a high level of output they will take to it over a period of time.”

KEY USPs OF 'BUSINESS BITES' ARE RESEARCH, INFORMAL SETTING: SCREWVALA

Talking about the BBC show, Screwvalla said that during conceptualisation the aim was to make the show very different from the other talk shows and business based shows on Indian television. “We wanted the talk to happen between two competitors in the same sector. This way we can discuss the challenges happening. We were also looking for a different setting."

“That is why we decided not to do it in a normal studio surrounding. We did not want a formal look. In an informal setting like a restaurant you are able to get a lot of issues out. The basic premise is that business when it is transacted over an informal occasion like lunch or dinner you tend to build bigger bridges and have a much more healthier relationship. The format has not been changed since we started out. We have gone industry by industry.”

Screwvalla added that as it was a BBC show the production values by necessity have to be high. “We are careful about picking the restaurant. While we talk about five or six core issues spread over 16 or 17 questions there is a tremendous amount of research that goes into each episode. We have a research team."

“While I am generally aware about the sectors by and large what happens is that I have about 300 pages of research to just glance through. It gives me a very good idea about the industry. From there I narrow down my thoughts and discuss issues."

“The research done along with the informal setting are the two things that set the show apart from other talk shows and business programmes. Also when you watch the programme every week you get different perspectives. You get a layman’s view in a half an hour snapshot. Otherwise you would get a more high tech discussion. Our discussions are more broader.”

UTV also has another show for the BBC called Back To The Floor. This sees a CEO going back to the basic level. “This is not a mock kid of thing. It is very participatory. The CEO gets to see what is right and what is wrong about basic systems and processes. We are also doing a show for National Georgraphic. This takes a look at stunt men. We also have two game shows on Hungama. One is a cricket show while the other is set on a giant wheel. These are the kinds of formats we are working on as far as non fiction is concerned.”

Business Bites airs every Sunday at 11 am on BBC World with a repeat the same day at 10 pm.

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