"The mantra for 2003 is definitely the 'horror/ thriller' genre" : Gautam Adhikari SABe TV chairman

SABe TV, a channel which recently completed two years of telecast, has carved a niche for itself as a channel which banks on humour as its USP. Its list of sitcoms include Office Office , Public Hai Sab Janti Hai ,Sajan Tum Jhuth Mat Bolo, Shriman Shrimati, Yes Boss, SAB Chalta Hai and Akting Akting , the most recent addition to its sitcom shelf. The channel also made headlines last year when Raamkhilavaan CM n Family was hauled at the Patna High Courts for its alleged spoof on Rashtriya Janata Dal supremo Laloo Prasad Yadav.

The channel has made great strides on the advertising front. "About 126 new brands have come on board since last year. The ad revenue generation has increased by about 60 per cent over and above last year,"says SABe TV senior vice president Pradipto Sircar.The top revenue grossers of the channel continue to be Office Office and Yes Boss. The standard rates charged by the channel are Rs 2000 to 5000 for 10 seconds. The channel intends to revise the rates from 1 April 2003.

SABe TV chairman Gautam Adhikari spoke to's Agnes Sebastian about the programming on the channel, how the channel fared in 2002, what it has in store for its viewers in 2003 and most importantly, what gives the channel the conviction to stick to the comedy genre when all the other mainstream channels are banking on family dramas.

Excerpts -

What were the main highlights of 2002 for SABe TV?

2002 was indeed a very good year for us. The channel began its local uplinking from Noida, Delhi. Also, our sitcom Office Office continued its winning streak and won laurels for the channel by bagging the best sitcom award at the Indian Telly Awards and the Indian Television Academy award ceremonies, respectively. The new sitcom Public Hai Sab Jaanti Hai which replaced Raamkhilavaan CM n Family is also doing extremely well and continues to get raving reviews. Most importantly, the channel viewership has definitely increased with a significant rise in the rural areas . According to the latest figures, we reach 25 million C&S households.

What kind of programming mix are you looking at for 2003?

We plan to launch a series of new programmes by June this year. We intend to focus on serials in all genres and not sitcoms alone. We plan to introduce at least three to four family dramas, a talent show and a thriller. All would be in house productions. However, we are open to outsourcing as well.

Emotional dramas centred around our culture will always be success with the Indian audience. We intend to begin work on a family drama based on relationships between boy and girl, parents and so on, but it will not be a melodrama.

Also, encouraged by the response received for our current affairs programmes, we plan to introduce a couple of new shows based on the same lines. We also intend to launch our own Hindi news channel within a year. As far as SABe TV goes, the content of the channel will speak for itself.

Everyone is saying that kids' programming is going to become big in 2003? Do you agree?

There is no doubt that, there is tremendous scope for kids' programming. Unfortunately in our country, kids' programmes are not the USP for any channel. They are always viewed as fillers. I intend to come up withRamayan or Mahabharat with only child artistes ( not more than 12 years old) . We also plan to introduce a special children's band on our channel.

"In our country, kids' programmes are not the USP for any channel. They are always viewed as fillers."

As the creative mind behind SABe TV, are you strictly for the sitcom/thriller formats or are there any other formats you believe is worth looking at?

Well, there is no doubt that the rate at which some soaps have been going on lately, viewer fatigue is inevitable. However, this is not the case with other genres like horror, comedy and thrillers.

As far as talk shows are concerned, they primarily cater only to the elite class, mythology does not interest the viewer the way it did before and game shows don't have any repeat value.

So I feel the mantra for 2003 is definitely "horror thriller". As a channel, we are working towards providing our viewers something different. We want our channel to be a specialized item in a general store. So, we will continue to provide our viewers with good wholesome comedies/sitcoms. However, the focus will now be on providing better programmes as dailies.

What changes do you plan to incorporate in the weekend programming slot? Has the channel made any special arrangements to ensure that the viewers remain faithful to the channel during the World Cup?

As weekend specials, we have two sitcoms which are doing extremely well- Office Office and Yes Boss .We still have to work on our Sunday morning bands because compared to other channels, it is still weak .

As for the World Cup, viewership is likely to be affected only on those days when India plays, otherwise people are content to watch their favourite serials as they get bored of watching cricket continuously.

What kind of campaigns has the channel undertaken recently?

The channel baseline 'Dare to be different' explains what we stand for.The channel is working towards giving itself a contemporary look .Promotional campaigns centered around the same have already begun .Ours is the only channel which provides its viewers with good humour so we intend to intensify our humour band and probably extend it over the weekends as well.

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