TV channels unite as one for Tsunami cause

MUMBAI: Talk about solidarity! The Indian Ocean tsunami, a disaster of unimaginably horrific magnitude, has galvanised the film and television fraternity into a historic coming together in aid of the victims.

In the biggest ever fund raiser in South Asia, The Film and Television Producers Guild of India, in association with the Indian film and television industry today announced the 'HELP! Telethon Concert'.

Bringing together different facets of the Indian entertainment industry, the concert will be held at the MMRDA grounds at the Bandra-Kurla Complex in Mumbai on 6 February. The effort: to raise funds towards the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund a/c HELP.

Speaking at a media briefing ahead of the event, Film &TV producers guild president Amit Khanna said, "It is for the first time that a truly holistic, integrated effort is being organised for charity anywhere in the world."

The six-hour mega concert will be simulcast live across news channels on 6 February and across all Hindi entertainment channels on 12 February.

Said SET India CEO Kunal Dasgupta, "This would be akin to a television roadblock that is unprecedented in the history of television globally."

Never before anywhere in the world has such a fund-raiser been organised which cuts across all media. With over 250 stars, the telethon offers advertisers a unique opportunity as for the first time all news and entertainment channels will beam the same programming and commercial breaks. With national broadcaster Doordarshan also part of the effort, the event is expected to reach an estimated 300 million viewers in India alone.

Star India will be spearheading the ad sales drive and has set aside Rs 10 million as an initial seed capital towards the fund. Says Star India COO Sameer Nair, "Together we will create history."

Considering the fact that any advertiser booking spots on the concert will have a virtual blanket brand presence across a huge swathe of the television space, it will be interesting to see what the spot rates for booking advertising on the show will entail. Since the whole effort is part of a noble cause, Star would be well justified in marking up the rates well beyond the normal peak tariffs. And this is one event where advertisers will not mind shelling out. Or so one assumes.

News channels participating in the telethon are DD News, Aaj Tak, NDTV 24X7, NDTV India, Star News, Zee News, CNBC and Sahara Samay. The entertainment channels participating are DD, Star Plus, Star One, Star Utsav, Star Gold, Star Vijay, Channel [V], SET, Max, Zee TV, Sab TV, MTV and Zoom.

A special song entitled HELP! composed by none other than Anu Malik and the lyrics penned by Prasoon Joshi is also in the agenda. The album will be released by T-series.

Viewers will be able to request online a poem, song, dialogue or performance rendered by a superstar. Also, multiple secured payment gateways have been made available apart from the traditional avenues. PriceWaterhouseCoopers have been appointed as the official auditors for the event and have recommended secured payment gateways over online banking, credit cards, SMS short code 4646 and cash deposits at banks.

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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