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South Asia World eyes UK market

22-February-2005
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South Asia World eyes UK market

South Asia World, a channel that targets South Asian origin and covers live news and entertainment from the Indian subcontinent, is venturing into UK market after establishing itself in the USA.

Louie Fernandes, CEO, India World Network USA, says, "Our USP is distinct and differentiated programming for those of South Asian origin. We have already established ourselves in the USA, and we are now venturing towards the UK market. South Asia World's programming, include its signature news program, "Our World Today" and "The Diaspora." "Our World Today" provides viewers with the latest political news from India and the subcontinent. This show also contains breaking news and information regarding cricket, Asian markets and entertainment. "The Diaspora" is broadcast from the South Asia World studio in the Empire State Building in New York City and profiles successful and prominent Indians."

The channel's catch word is infotainment. It hosts talk shows in addition to news, and a specific show, called "FAQ" which answers frequently asked questions by non-resident Indians on different topics. A 24-hour news shop, it has been launched by the US-based Echostar Communications Corp, and video production company Television Eighteen Network.

Fernandes says, "With entertainment programmes such as "Show Time India" and talk shows such as "Talk Time," South Asians are able to keep in touch with the traditions, culture and news from their native homeland. The innovative show "FAQ" answers frequently asked questions by non-resident Indians on topics such as relocation, finding employment, making investments in India and legal concerns on issues such as immigration and citizenship."

The news channel is available through Echostar's Dish Network. Presently, DISH Network broadcasts 99 international channels from over 25 countries in more than 25 languages such as Arabic, Hindi, Portuguese, Mandarin, Japanese and Russian. Why din't the promoters of the channel go via the cable route instead?

Fernandes says, "At the time of the launch, we did consider it. But the cable industry in the USA is extremely fragmented, with individual MSO's for various regions. DTH was a far better platform and it provides greater reach with less effort. The cable scene in India is complicated enough with big questions on distribution and reach and as a country USA is five or six times bigger. It can be a herculean task to establish yourself via the cable route."

South Asia World channel has an impressive infrastructure in place, as far as the programming domain is concerned. It has a fully-equipped studio in the Empire State Building in New York, bureaus in Washington and the San Francisco Bay Area, reporters from coast-to-coast in the US, and live news studios in Mumbai and Delhi. Fernandes says that the operational arrangements with TV 18 have also gone a long way in helping the channel establish a foothold. He adds, "Without a doubt, we are deriving a good deal from TV 18's world class production and broadcast experience.

It's clearly a win-win situation for us as we have a lot to fall back on and some great programming to help us establish viewership. The kind of programming that's on CNBC, is extremely slick and provides some great India-centric insight. That's exactly the kind of programming that we have on South Asia."

South Asia World is also propelled by the success of Mantram; a South Asian Lifestyle magazine which has established quite a foothold in the American market. The magazine was acquired by TV18 earlier this year. After the acquisition, Mantram's circulation increased from 8,000 to 24,000. The relationship with Mantram's advertisers in the region has also greatly helped the channel. As mentioned earlier, South Asia World is expanding its operations to the UK and would be available in the region by the end of this quarter.

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