'We want to increase the interest of viewers in German topics ' : Angelika Newel Distribution Executive DW Asia

Deutsche Welle (DW) Television entered India in 1996. A niche channel, it has been perceived as a channel only for the German speaking audiences. But the FTA channel is slowly spreading its tentacles in all economic centers in the country, determined to put across the European point of view. DW Asia Distribution Executive Angelika Newel was in the country recently to bolster the channel's reach through a twin strategy of targeting cable ops as well as hotel chains. She spoke to Aparna Joshi and Harish Patil of on the prospects of the channel. Excerpts from a conversation:

What is DW's objective in increasing reach in India?

DW is a public broadcaster with an obligation to present a comprehensive and extensive picture of political, cultural and economic life in Germany and to explain the German view on important international issues. The channel is basically a news channel with an independent view. If the cable ops are to be believed, DW TV reaches 7.1 million households in India, of which 2.1 million are in Mumbai. Delhi accounts for 920,000 households and Kolkata for 550,000. Pune, Nasik and Kerala each account for over 200,000 households.

What is your revenue structure?

We don't have many advertisements on the channel. Our earnings come from licensing fees. In India, we are free to air on Asiasat2. In India, we have ads put out by Allianz Insurance and a German beer manufacturer. However, there are time slots that are kept for cable operators to insert local advertisements. This is yet to pick up, however.

We are concentrating on educated and cosmopolitan viewers in big cities and towns and cities like Mumbai and Pune to start with.

What is the market size in India and what your distribution strategy?

There is a limited German audience in India - hardly 4,000 German people in India, and something like 80,000 more who know, learn or are interested in German and so are potential viewers for DW.

However, we are concentrating on educated and cosmopolitan viewers in big cities and towns and cities like Mumbai and Pune to start with. As far as the initial response goes, it has not been encouraging. We are planning to reach 80 per cent of Cable & Satellite homes in Mumbai and Pune. In Delhi, we will try to reach to 70 per cent of the cable homes.

For distribution we are looking at two main sources i.e. cable operators, and a DTH platform. We are also pushing for tie-ups with major hotel chains. We have already signed an agreement with the Taj group of hotels which entails the transmission of the channel in all its establishments.

How does programming on DW differ from that on other foreign channels?

DW TV is governed by a board of seven persons, which is elected by social groups in Germany; this group decides the kind of content that goes in. We do have news programmes, but try to maintain a focus on science, technology, media and education. There's Newslink, a weekday European focused current affairs magazine.

The Africa and Asia Pacific Reports provide specialist coverage for these regions, including bilateral issues. In the past, Doordarshan has also bought programmes from us on science and technology. We also maintain a balance of 12 hours of English and German programming on the channel, so we reach out to a wider audience. In fact, DW radio programmes on science, language and agriculture are also being rebroadcast by AIR by translating them into Hindi, Bengali and other languages.

We are a government recommended channel in Pakistan, as our view is considered impartial, as against certain other foreign TV channels.


How is the channel doing in the rest of Asia?

In Pakistan, we are doing extremely well. We are, in fact, a government recommended channel as our view is considered impartial, as against certain other foreign TV channels. In fact, we have a two and half hour slot on the public broadcast channel as well. As of now, there are no plans to extend the service to the rest of Asia.

What are the channel's plans for the short term?

Future plans in India are, in general, to increase the number of households with a certain focus on the big cities. So we have decided to penetrate mainly into networks in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore to have a nearly complete coverage in cable. Along with this, we want to increase the interest of viewers in German topics by making concrete marketing actions in these cities.

India apart, we are launching the 24 hours German TV, a German language channel for overseas viewers, in the US from March 2002. An encrypted channel, it will be subsequently also launched in South America and Australia. German TV offers the best in programming from Germany's public broadcasters and is a very good demonstration of the quality of European television productions. The agreement signed by DW and GlobeCast, US, will hopefully pave the way for transmissions via the Ku-band satellite TelStar 5 for direct reception and the C-band GE-1 satellite for cable feeds. The DW agreement is valid for seven years.

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