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BBC to launch kids, English entertainment channels in India

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MUMBAI: The kids and English general entertainment space in India is about to get a tad more crowded. BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of UK pubcaster the BBC, has announced that it will be launching two channels in India shortly - preschoolers' channel CBeebies and BBC Entertainment, offering drama and comedy.

The launches are part of a global rollout of four new TV channels that will include BBC Knowledge and BBC Lifestyle. BBC Worldwide has stated it also plans a high definition channel in the future. The four channels will be broadcast across all media: linear TV, VoD, mobile and online.

BBC Entertainment and CBeebies are due to be launched in India first. BBC Entertainment will replace BBC Prime in some countries, initially Hong Kong, Singapore, Korea and Thailand.

BBC Worldwide said the expansion of the channels would be decided on a country-by-country basis. As part of its plans to ramp up its channels business globally, BBC Worldwide is setting up regional offices in Asia, Europe and Latin America. Heading operations in Asia is Christine Leo-McKerrow who has been appointed senior VP for tghe region.

CBeebies will air in India in Hindi and English and will not carry ads. “We will be setting up an advisory board made up of local/Indian psychologists, doctors, teachers, parents etc to advise us on our programming and ensure we remain relevant and trustworthy,” Darren Childs, the managing director of global channels at BBC Worldwide, has been quoted as saying in a media report.

In the UK CBeebies targets children below the age of six. CBeebies' basic aim is to educate and entertain the BBC's youngest audience. The service provides a range of pre-school programming designed to encourage learning through play for children aged five and under, in a consistently safe environment. For the CBeebies launch in India the channel will have a panel of pyschologists, experts to decide on the programming content. The aim is to ensure relevance and trustworthiness.

BBC Entertainment, meanwhile, will aim to offer the best of British shows in different genres like comedy, drama and light entertainment.

Localisation: A report in the UK's Times says that while initially the plan is to air British shows, the BBC is also looking at generating content from India. It might also look to buy Indian production companies if the business successfully kicks in, the report adds.

Childs was quoted saying that the company is trying to change how it approaches the international channels business and fit things into a local market perspective rather than push them out from London. He also says that the chanel is close to getting a distribution deal.

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