Cable TV

Pogo comes alive with new original programming

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MUMBAI: Turner Entertainment Networks Asia's (Tena) kids' channel Pogo, created specifically for the Indian market, has more original programming up its sleeves this year. Game shows, sitcoms, documentaries and fiction shows is what's on the kiddies' channel's agenda for 2006-07.

What's more, Pogo is now garnering a lot of interest from international markets as well. In April this year, Turner's Latin American kids channel Boomerang was re-launched with the Pogo branding. While the name of the channel remains the same, a lot of elements in terms of promos and on-air look were borrowed from Pogo.

Coming back to new original programming; taking a cue from the popularity of shows M.A.D (Music Art Dance), Bam! Bam! Bam! Gir Pade Hum, Prime Pogo and Pogo Amazing Kids Awards (2004 and 2005), the channel is now set to launch a new half hour comedy show called It's Alive! from 21 May. The 13-episodes show, which has been produced in-house, will air Sundays at 11 am and will star Prime Pogo stars Niall and Chinu.

What's more, Galli Galli Sim Sim, the Indian version of Sesame Street, is also slated to launch around mid-August and is likely to air from Monday to Fridays. The third edition of Pogo Amazing Kids Awards is also on the cards this year. Apart from this, a new season of M.A.D. coupled with a summer special of the same is also in the pipeline.

"Pogo itself is an original production and we are constantly looking at innovative, smart and fun ideas that will back up the Pogo brand. The success of our original productions on Pogo has inspired us to do more such shows," says Tena vice president creative and original content Orion Ross.

Plans for the annual Pogo Amazing Kids Awards are also big this time round. The channel plans to film 'amazing' kids across the country and develop a 13-week series around the same, which will lead up to the grand finale. "This time on the Pogo Amazing Kids Awards the emphasis is going to be on the kids themselves. Sixty kids across 10 categories will be profiled. We will be finding out their stories and air them every week and towards the last two weeks before the awards, the series will be aired every night," informs Ross.

Viewers will also be asked to vote for their favourite 'amazing' kid via SMS. The winner in each category will be chosen on the basis of the votes as well as the jury for the awards. Ross says, "The aim is to build ways for viewers to be more involved in the process."

TURNER OPEN TO PRODUCE / COMMISSION INDIAN ANIMATION IDEAS

Until now, Turner's strategy has been to acquire original animation series from Indian studios and air them on their channels. Some of them are - Akbar & Birbal, The Legend of Buddha, Son of Aladdin, Tenali Rama and Ramayana - The Legend of Prince Ram.

Now the network is planning on something big and a first of sorts. "We are open to hearing animation script ideas from individuals as well as studios in India and then develop the series for Cartoon Network and Pogo. They could be series, feature films or pre-school shows," says Ross.

Ross is in charge of overseeing the overall strategy for Tena's two existing teams - the Hong Kong based Creative Services as well as the India based Original Productions. One of Ross' mandate at Tena is to set up and manage a new Asia Pacific animation development structure in India, which will focus on new Indian animation projects.

The network will decide whether to produce the new series in-house or commission it to Indian studios. Tena will be funding the production for the series.

"The approach is creative driven. We are looking for the big idea in Indian animation. We are open to talking to people who have a distinct creative vision. The aim is to find the next William Hanna and Joseph Barbera, Chuck Jones or Craig McCracken," says Ross.

However, whether the series will be solely for the Indian market or will be aired in the international markets as well is a decision the network will take at a much later stage. Ross' 12-member team will look to set the ball rolling in this direction.

This surely could be music to the ears of aspiring animators in India… provided they have the Big Idea!

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