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India has cultural links with BBC, it trusts BBC, says Jonathan Howlett, Director, Airtime Sales, BBC World

25-November-2002
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India has cultural links with BBC, it trusts BBC, says Jonathan Howlett, Director, Airtime Sales, BBC World

The program moves at a swift pace as Siddhartha Basu questions the contestants vehemently in 'Mastermind India' quiz show (on format of Mastermind UK) on BBC World.

Sanjeev Karwal, 27, is biting his nails, listening to him in rapt attention in his living room; his eyes are glued to the screen. In between the rounds his attention is diverted at the softly illuminated monument at the backdrop. He could recognize it; it was House of Worship, located in New Delhi.

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This is one of the reasons why BBC World has good viewer ship in India - the localization of the content. However, Jonathan Howlett, Director, Airtime Sales cites another reason, "There are cultural links that explain why one type of presentation style is liked more than the other, and India had links with BBC, it trusts the BBC" says Howlett. However, in addition to the Indian audience, the localized programs appeal to the audience outside India as well, which helps BBC World to increase their revenues sources outside the country in other regions.
Read interview with Jonathan Howlett.

The tragic world events of 2001, fickle international politics, global interest in India, and foreign business linkages, has created the demand pull for the news channels, in the recent times. But, then there are other local players planning to jump into the bandwagon. Is BBC World worried about the competition? 'Not really', the channel believes in their committed upscale viewership, which is growing constantly. Presently, BBC World claims that it is available in 11 million homes in India. Albeit, BBC World has been airing programs with cross-country viewer appeal as well, like Question Time Pakistan, in addition to Question Time India. Howlett says, "Question Time Pakistan attracted Indian audience as well audience in Pakistan." All this translates into increased revenues, claims BBC World (the figures are not available).

BBC World was planning to launch a reality show, 'Commando,' in India, in January 2002. But it was postponed due to the escalation of tension between India and Pakistan. Is BBC World planning to reintroduce such reality programs, "The marketing cost of these programs is high. Its difficult to introduce news shows like 'Commando,' without taking finite marketing spends away from promoting other elements of the channel." says Howlett. With the launch of English news channel by three local players in India, BBC World's will certainly be competing for viewers like never before.

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