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The History Channel launches local initiatives to connect brand

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MUMBAI: In April, The History Channel (THC) had repositioned itself as an entertainment channel while staying true to its core proposition of airing content with a historical perspective. As a step up to this strategy, the channel has embarked on India-specific initiatives.

Speaking to Indiantelevision.com, THC senior VP programming Joy Bhattacharya says, “We are taking an integrated approach which encompasses on air, online and on ground. On air we will be showing a special on the Mughals on 23 and 24 September at 10 pm titled Warrior Empire. The show will look at various aspects of their rule. Viewers will learn little known details like the Taj Mahal was built of bricks with only a marble façade. Later on we will be airing a show Jewel In the Crown."

THC is also looking at doing a series of 30 second to one minute interstitials called Timepieces which will kick off next month. "It will offer information on what happened this week in history. This will air during breaks of programmes. Each week a new interstitial will ai," adds Bhattacharya.

The channel plans to launch next year an initiative around the 150th anniversary of the 1857 revolt. "We are talking to parties like the imperial war museum in London. They have artefacts and documents of what transpired. It is good to see that they have an unbiased viewpoint of what happened in terms of what worked and did not work during colonisation. The channels' weekly reach since the repositioning has risen by 29 per cent. Our share in the English entertainment genre has also doubled,” says Bhattacharya.

The online initiative is a campaign called Save Your History. This will be a community sharing site that will allow Indians to share and collaborate on important historical happenings in their lives, which could be in the form of photos, precious documents and artifacts.

For instance, a famous cricketer could put a photograph of his first bat or the first match that he played. The campaign is aimed at educating people on the importance of responsibility and commitment to saving one’s culture and heritage for the sake of posterity. Bhattacharya says that this is a good way to get a community involved with the brand.

“We are trying to involve as many people as possible to create a community of history. We have approached several well known personalities as well on this. After all everybody has a history. The History channel site gets around 7000 page views a day,” adds Bhattacharya.

The onground initiative involves a tie up with NGO, the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural heritage (Intach). The organisation works towards promoting awarness of heritage and conservation. Both parties will aim at making history more relevant.

"The first step of the initiative is a school contact programme. Screenings of THC’s shows like French Revolution,The Mughals, Rome and Crusades are being organised by Intach with its chapters, schools and colleges. In the first month, the activity will reach 6000 students. This way THC hopes that children will not look at history as being dull and boring," says Bhattacharya.

He also says that plans are afoot to include heritage walks, seminars and workshops. This way the channel hopes to build a brand that people can touch and feel. In terms of marketing activity to create awareness, spots will air on the channel. These initiatives, Bhattacharya says, will give viewers the feeling that the channel is programmed by and for Indians.

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