Experimental programming seems to have reached a new frontier with India's business channel CNBC TV 18 teaming up with the youth channel MTV for a co-production titled 'Budget Fundas 2005.' Chalk and Cheese, would be the only way to describe this initiative.
The idea was to analyse the proposals, policies and pronouncements of the Union Budget 2005, from the point of the view of the youngsters and to build a co-relation between abstract economic policy and tangible monetary returns. The panel saw Adi Godrej (Chairman, Godrej Group), Milind Deora (Member of Parliament), Ramesh Damani (Member, Bombay Stock Exchange) and film personalities Mallika Sherawat and Zayed Khan battling it out on whether the budget matches expectations or not.
The session was extremely interactive with MTV VJ Cyrus Broacha hosting the show, in collaboration with Govindraj Ethiraj (Corporate Editor, TV 18.) While one was full of wise cracks and innuendos, the other was straight faced and quick to latch on to key points.
Commenting on the initiative, B Saikumar, Vice-President (Marketing), CNBC TV-18 said, "Studies show that the youth below the age group of 30 years are less aware of the ground realities of the effect of the Union Budget on their lives. Through Budget Fundas 2005, CNBC TV 18 along with MTV, endeavour to bridge this alarming information gap and assist the youth of India to voice their reactions and opinions on the Union Budget 2005 for the first time."
Meanwhile, planners give this particular initiative the thumbs up. Hiren Pandit, GM, Mindshare, said, "I think that it's an exciting programming initiative purely because you would never think of mixing the budget and its intricacies with a youth-oriented audience. It's also a revelation of sorts, because it doesn't just sum up what industrialists and politicians have to say on the budget, it also takes into accordance the opinion of youth icons like Mallika Sherawat and Zayed Khan. I think that Budget Fundas 2005 ought to generate good ratings for CNBC TV-18 because it amounts to differentiated programming and it takes up a heavy subject and mixes it in a lighter vein. Who would have thought of coupling Cyrus with Govindraj Ethiraj? That's certainly bold programming."
Meanwhile Prasanth Kumar, Media Director, MAXUS, said that while the concept is enticing and different, it's also the first of its kind. He said, "There haven't been too many programming initiatives which debate over heavy matters like policy and budget allocation, and mish mash them with the youth perspective, youth icons and witty innuendos. TV certainly makes strange bedfellows. On one hand you have a straight faced no frills business channel like CNBC and on the other hand, a totally funky one like MTV. And the two have certainly mixed. I think it's a great programming initiative, and it should ideally gear good ratings.
Evidently, Budget Fundas 2005 has merged the thin line between business oriented strait-laced programming and funky youth-oriented programming. And it has sparked off much interest from the planning and buying fraternity as well. Rest, the ratings will tell.