South Indian channels brace for production resumption

Karnataka to resume indoor serial shooting from 25 May

Photo by Julian Schiemann on Unsplash

MUMBAI: After an extraordinary lull of two months, during which the entire TV production activity came to an abrupt standstill ravaging advertising revenues in its wake, general entertainment channels (GECs) in some south states soon can air fresh content. While the Karnataka government has given approval for resuming indoor shooting of serials to begin from 25 May, the Kerala government has responded favourably to the TV producers’ request.

The lockdown caused by the Covid2019 pandemic has affected the television industry adversely. While news channels, having been put under the essential service category, continued to function, most of the GECs found the going tough. It has been even tougher for those entertainment channels which aren’t lucky enough to have a vast movie library to boot.

In fact, those with a huge movie depository sustained, and even flourished. In Kerala, for instance, Surya TV got lucky with its huge movie bank as it made up for the lack of fresh programmes by banking on its movie library. The GEC, part of the Sun Network, edged out Asianet from its top position in week 15 of BARC just by airing movies back-to-back from its bank. However, between week 16 and 18, it has slipped to the second spot.

But, not all are lucky. And the unlucky ones are now seeing a glimmer of light at the end of this lockdown tunnel with the prospect of resuming shooting.

“You will need to give a plot recap before you start airing the fresh sequences to soaps,” a programming head with a Kannada TV channel quipped wryly. That pretty much sums up the desperation on the ground. After all, how long would you bank on the library to keep a home-bound, entertainment-hungry audience hooked?

Cost constraints

Regional channels, faced with the twin challenges of cash crunch and limited resources in the changed scenario, will have to adjust to the new normal.  “GECs, especially regional ones, have to deal with the problem of costs and cannot cough up more. They cannot afford to have the kind of strict parameters and protocols that have now been put in place in production activities by studios in Hollywood,” said a senior hand working with an entertainment channel in Bangalore, who prefers not to be named because he is not authorised to speak to the media.  

Viacom18 regional TV head Ravish Kumar said: “We are currently awaiting approvals from the relevant authorities and will adhere to all norms, formalities and SOPs. We will resume shoots only once we have a formal go-ahead from the concerned authorities and will continue to follow best practices and guidelines laid down by them to ensure safety and well-being of all involved.”

Viacom18’s Colors has two entertainment channels in Tamil and Kannada.

Programme producers say that things will not be the same as they were before. “No liberal shooting will be allowed. There will be a lot of restrictions like the number of people allowed in a shooting set, etc. So many things cannot be visualized unlike in the past. We need to plan because of these reasons,” said a programme executive in Karnataka.

With outdoor shooting still a distant dream, serial plots will go for a lot of changes. Scenes where outdoor shooting are required will have to be rewritten or tweaked.  

As of now, entertainment channels have an oversupply of scripts for serials and other programmes. “We are ready with scripts for 40 to 50 serials. Writers, with plenty of free times, have been churning out serial plots prolifically since the start of the lockdown. But we are not yet sure as to how we can work it out with all the restrictions,’’ he said.

SOP for shooting

The Karnataka government has given tentative approval for TV serials to resume indoor shooting from 25 May, with a lot of restrictions. Shootings in the state came to an end on 22 March following the lockdown.

Karnataka Television Association (KTVA) has put in place operational procedures for shooting from 25 May. As per the SOP, only indoor shoots are permitted. The social distance should be maintained at the location. Only required actors for the shot and main technicians should be at the spot and others have to wait outside. The number of crew members should not exceed more than 18 people. The director and production manager should decide on crew and casting on a daily basis so as to maintain the minimum crew at any point of time. The artist support staff/ personal assistant should not stay at the shooting spot. They have to drop off and leave.

The body temperature of each member needs to be checked before entering the shooting spot and if it is high, they should not be allowed. The producer has to provide a thermal scanner at the location. The name and address of all the cast and crew members should be recorded on a daily basis and the same to be provided to visiting government/medical officers at any time. The production manager needs to record this every morning without fail and ask the cast and crew to write it in the ledger.

Producers have to provide transport for all the actors, technicians and crew members and follow the government instructions on transport facilities. People travelling in generator vehicles too should follow general Covid2019 instructions. No vehicle should be overloaded than the prescribed number of passengers. If not followed, authorities will have all the rights to cancel the shooting.

The producer has to provide hand sanitizer, liquid soap and other materials to maintain cleanliness at the shooting spot. Everyone at the location should follow instructions provided by the government on covid-19 situation.

Refillable sanitizers have to be provided along with hand wash dispensers at the wash basins. Covid2019 precautionary instructions have to be printed in bold letters and pasted at shooting spots (both in English and Kannada)

Except for actors acting before the camera, everyone at the shooting spot should be wearing masks and hand gloves all the time. All the actors and crew should carry their own mask and wear in all the time

Makeup crew should get sanitized before putting makeup on each artist. No back-to-back makeup without sanitizing. Usage of wet cloth is banned and the same has to be replaced by wet tissues and needs to be disposed of carefully.

Makeup crew need to report early and artists have to go for makeup according to the shooting plan. Wet tissues have to be provided to actors and they have use it themselves and put the used ones in dedicated waste bin

The microphones, both lapel and boom rods used in the set, need to be cleaned with sanitizer before putting it on the actors and bringing it into the set.

Disinfectant spray should be sprayed before and in between the shots at the location. Phenyl mixed with Dettol should be applied on shooting floors, doors, windows, sofas, tables, chairs and other properties before use.

One set assistant should be kept only for this and he/she should be wearing washable hand gloves and masks all the time.

Follow the standard travel plan for cast and crew members and make sure no vehicles should carry more than the prescribed number of passengers. All the vehicles needs to be disinfected before using for shooting purpose

Pressing of costumes should be avoided at the location and all the actors should get ready to wear costumes from their home. The direction and production team need to inform the artist well in advance about the respective costumes with continuity details.

Only packed food, sealed in aluminium foil, to be provided at the shooting location. Actors and main technicians ideally should carry their own food if possible and avoid sitting next to each other and eating.

Those travelling from outside for shooting have to follow the self-quarantine rules as per the government order. Actors, associates and assistants need to be informed 15 days in advance to reach Bangalore and be in home quarantine before coming to the shooting spot.

In other states

Elsewhere, in Tamil Nadu, the channels are keeping their fingers crossed as they have yet to receive a go-ahead signal from the government. The television fraternity in the state has made representations with the government, hoping for a resumption of production activities. The government allowed post-production works from 11 May.  

"As of now, we have not got any approvals from the government. We will follow the same SOP proposed by the IBF to the government,” said the business head of an entertainment channel.  

In Kerala, broadcasters are hoping for a favourable decision from the government to resume the shooting activities. Malayalam television fraternity, an association of television directors and producers, the other day met the chief minister in this regard. The CM has assured the fraternity members that he will consider their request favourably.

The GECs are hoping that a favourable government decision will come very soon. ZEE Keralam’s business head Santosh J Nair said that the industry is going through very tough times. “There is no new content and advertising revenue is also at the lowest. We are eagerly waiting to start shooting soon keeping in mind protocols. Based on government approvals we will start our work. All this while, we relied on our content bank. But after our original banked episodes were exhausted and shooting stopped, we did not have fresh content. We have survived with a mix of reruns of fictions and films.”

“The fraternity members got an assurance from the CM. A quick decision will come soon. But it is uncertain about the kind of controls that will be put in place for shooting. But it will be done in a controlled environment. It is unlikely that outdoor shoots will happen,” said Kairali TV programme head Unni Cherian.

Latest Reads
Star Plus and Star Maa were at the second and third positions, respectively

Mumbai: Maintaining last week’s lead at the top position, Sun TV bagged 2844.7 AMA in week 41 (between 9-15 October) according to Broadcast Audience Research Council (Barc) data. Star Plus stood second with 2506.37 (‘000s) AMA, while Star Maa finished third at 2348.62 (‘000s). Star Sports 1 Hindi,...

Television TV Channels Viewership
Zeel-Invesco tussle: NCLT hearing to be held on 27 Oct

In a new development in the boardroom battle between Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel) and it's majority shareholder Invesco Developing Markets Fund, the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) has scheduled the next hearing on 27 October.

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
K Madhavan re-elected as IBDF president

Mumbai: The Indian Broadcasting and Digital Foundation (IBDF), the apex body of television broadcasters and digital streaming platforms in the country, has re-elected The Walt Disney Company India and Star India country manager and president K Madhavan as its president for the second term after the...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Zeel-Invesco case: Bombay HC to pronounce order on 26 Oct

Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Friday reserved its order in a civil suit filed by Zee Entertainment Enterprises Ltd (Zeel) seeking to declare the requisition notice sent by the company’s largest shareholder Invesco. The court has adjourned the matter to 26 October for the pronouncement of the...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
News State Uttarakhand concludes 'Yuva Uttarakhand, Yuva Ummeed' conclave

Mumbai: The towering high political fever has gripped the political state like never before. To assess the situation in the state a grand conclave was organised by News State Uttarakhand in Haridwar, where the channel attracted unprecedented applause from both the participants and the delegates for...

Television TV Channels News Broadcasting
Zee 24 Ghanta’s Durga Puja properties and brand integration hits the sweet spot

Mumbai: The most comprehensive Durga Puja coverage of recent times by Zee 24 Ghanta with the right blend of news, fresh content & integrations. Amidst the challenging times, Zee 24 Ghanta - the most trusted news channel of East, curated a special lineup for the Durga Puja celebrations urging...

Television TV Channels Regional
National Geographic to premiere ‘It Happens Only in India’ on 26 Oct

Mumbai: National Geographic has announced an original series ‘It Happens Only in India’ which will be hosted by Indian actor, producer, and philanthropist Sonu Sood. The show will premiere on 26 October starting at 8:00 p.m. The 10-part series will have Sonu Sood presenting stories from across the...

Television TV Channels Factual
Zee Telugu Kutumbam Awards 2021 to be aired on 23 and 31 Oct

Mumbai: Zee Telugu and Zee Telugu HD channels will telecast the Zee Telugu Kutumbam Awards 2021 on 23 and 31 October starting at 6:00 p.m. The celebration is the recognition of the best actors, anchors, and experts that successfully narrated stories of ordinary people embarking upon extraordinary...

Television TV Channels Regional
Music listening time through audio streaming up 51 per cent: IFPI

The pandemic has taken a severe toll on people’s lives, and impacted their media consumption patterns in more ways than one. According to a new study, it has also led to an increase in the time spent listening to music across the world.

Television TV Channels Music and Youth

Sign up for our Newsletter

subscribe for latest stories

* indicates required