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Times
television
Writer: Shubha Kumble - Tuesday, Feb 03,2004 6:49 AM
Niche audience gets an added treat with Channel Coorg

Following the launch of niche channels like Pogo and History, comes another offering for an exclusive audience. But while other niche channels cater to a specific interest group or an age cluster, Channel Coorg targets a different kind of exclusivity.

As the name suggests, it has been created for the people of Coorg, one of the more economically and culturally prosperous districts of Karnataka. Launched on January 26, the channel currently broadcasts two news bulletins daily and is expected to offer a complete community based programming mix in the next six months.

Darshan M, Partner, Coorg Channel, says, “Coorg as a community has not been exposed to different media. Very few towns in the district have access to cable connection. While most of the communities live around these towns, some big planters live away and have their own dish connection. Even in terms of other media, there were only two newspapers in Coorg – one died and the other can only be found in places like restaurants as they have very low circulation rates. So there is no medium that reaches out to these guys and talks to them about their own local news and issues.”

Channel Coorg, launched on January 26, presently offers two, half-hour news bulletins. Currently available to around 10,000 viewers from the town of Gonnikoppa, the channel aims to reach around 1.5 lakh viewers all over Coorg by mid March. The coming month will also see the addition of a one-hour weekend slot concentrating mainly on the culture of the land.

The channel is looking to offer a complete community based content mix. This includes informational programs with a focus on issues like coffee trends and plantation development. The channel will also create a series on educational hotspots like Bangalore, Mysore and Mangalore where many Coorgs migrate for higher education. Along with this, it will showcase the heritage of the land through its people, language and culture. The programming mix will also contain broadcasts of hockey matches, a local favorite. Though Coorg has its own dialect, the channel will use Kannada as according to Darshan, “Today most of the people in Coorg are not native Coorgs.”

While the channel will be restricted to Coorg for the time being, going national is certainly part of its long-term plans. “The basic problem is content. Only when we have around 200 hours of quality programming, shall we think of venturing out of the district. Once this happens, we can even get on the Net, start having interactive TV and get subscribers from Bangalore and Mangalore. This means that we will take some time before going national. We are also in talks with DD. I don’t think it will be difficult to get one hour a week on DD Karnataka to start off with and run programs on Coorg,” says Darshan. He adds that if the channel proves to be successful, the Kodagu Media Network Associates, backers of the channel, would look at making similar offerings in areas like Goa and Himanchal Pradesh.

Banking on word-of-mouth advertising in a place like Coorg, the channel’s promoters have engaged in zero promotional activities. Darshan says, “The launch event has created substantial interest in the channel. In fact, we have been booked out for the next three months through advertisers mainly from Mysore and Coorg. With increasing quality in all our activities this response should only grow.” Describing the investment put into the channel as “small”, Darshan reveals that the promoters were not looking at profits for the next five years.

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