MUMBAI: BBC World launched its first ever India focused brand advertising campaign on 16 January this year and has followed this up with a wide variety of India focused programmes this March.
The news channel has constantly maintained that India is its first market for region specific programming and the channel continues to focus on this region through mini series, interviews and perspective stories- the latest being its coverage on the Indian Budget.
Starting 6 March, BBC World will air its mini series Take Off on Indian civil aviation. The documentary series talks to leading industry experts about the recent developments in the aviation sector and analyses the trends.
While the channel has in the past looked at Indian IT and auto sectors, we asked BBC World Commissioning Editor Narendhra Morar why the special focus on aviation sector.
Says Morar, "The aviation industry in many ways symbolises globalisation, given that it's all about connecting people and places the world over. And the aviation industry in India is a very good metaphor for India's increasing integration into a globalised world economy. It is also a dynamic and rapidly expanding sector. For all these reasons, we felt India's aviation industry was an important one that can shed light on many aspects of India's growing economic importance in the world, a development that is being closely followed by businesses and governments the world over."
On choosing Miditech to present this documentary series, Morar explained that the comfort level was largely in place having worked with the production house on various other shows and series in the past.
"We have worked on several series with Miditech, including another business series entitled Call Centre. Miditech have the requisite skills and resources to produce a series that meets BBC standards. The series has interviewed a vast variety of people including the Minister of Civil Aviation, the heads of private airlines such as Jet, Kingfisher and Spice as well as previous entrants who subsequently withdrew from the market such as Damania. This is probably the most comprehensive examination of India's aviation industry," he adds.
He also explained that Take Off could well be one of the biggest series' the channel has commissioned with a large number of teams in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore contributing to the making of it. "Given that there are continuing developments in the story of Indian aviation, filming has in fact not been completed. Additional filming has and will continue to be done to ensure that the story is as current as is possible. As BBC World's commissioning editor, I take a very close interest in the content and am in constant dialogue with the producer on each episode of the series. It is a true collaborative process between BBC World and Miditech," he says.
Take Off is just the start of the channel's India focus. Another show Peschardt's People, which began airing from 3 March, sees Michael Peschardt touring the Asia Pacific region even as he catches up with people and issues that matter in the particular country. Peschardt's stop in India will see him explore the appeal of Indian films and a conversation with Bollywood actor Preity Zinta. The actress was earlier roped in by BBC news online to write a regular column for their news website.
But the flavour of the month is cricket with ICC World Cup Cricket on in full swing by the latter half of the month. And like other news channels, the BBC is also doing the cricket tango with shows like Sport Today and Extra Time.
Morar also spoke about the other World Cup initiatives by the channel. "Following the success of the interactive programme My World Cup during the Football World Cup in 2006, BBC World will be launching My Cricket World Cup to run throughout the tournament. A twice-weekly show presented by Adnan Nawaz, it will feature regular cricket fans and armchair commentators from across the world. Those who wish to interact with Adnan can do so live via webcam, email or mobile, giving them a chance to have their say about the tournament, games, teams and players."
Morar admits that BBC World "has always had a strong affinity with the Indian market and Indian audiences and we also remain firmly committed to output covering India in all its myriad manifestations. There has always been a historic link between the BBC and India and in that sense what we are doing now is simply a continuation of this connection."
BBC World has maintained that outside Europe, India is the single most important market for the news channel. The competition from national news channels, especially the addition of English news channels and the CNN-factor, have made BBC World take a re-look at their programming and bring in a stronger Indian perspective. The channel can no longer use the garb of historical connections and will have to work aggressively to compete in this key growing market.
But Morar brushes aside this fact by stating, "Competition from other broadcasters is not only a fact but is to be welcomed as it enables us to give off our best."