Channel V has revamped itself from being a music-oriented channel to a youth GEC. Its show ‘Gumraah’ has been the most talked-about and the flagship content form of the channel. Prem Kamath, Head, Channel V talks about the brand’s initiatives and why the channel has changed its positioning and approach to address youth, among other things...
Please share Channel V’s latest initiatives.
The most critical thing in the recent months has been the channel’s shift from music. We stopped playing music from July 2012. We launched ‘Crazy Stupid Ishq’, and now we are launching the third season of ‘Gumraah’.
On the non-TV front, we completed the third year of Indiafest; it the largest year for the festival. Nearly 40,000 students came for the finale.
Apart from this, we have been doing interesting things for ‘Gumraah’. We recently launched an app called ‘With you’. It is an app designed for safety of women.
What prompted the shift in your genre?
As a brand, we are faithful to the audience and not the genre. Our fundamental audience is youth. We gratified youth, their needs, character, etc. We have always represented youth values. We have always stood for being cool and our brand identity was always youth. In 2009, we thought that we need to stick to the core of the brand, not necessarily through any particular way such as music. We reach youth and our way of doing that is not confined. We can deliver content to our audiences through cafes, events and any means as long as fundamental core of being youthful and being different remains intact. With the research we have done and commissioned, a conclusion which evolved was that there are varieties of youth issues which need to be addressed and we are capitalising on that.
Are you trying to evolve as a youth counselor in form of a broadcaster?
There is a strong sense of responsibility in what we do. We are not here merely to entertain. Teenage is a turbulent life-stage. In fact, the age 15 to 21 is a stage where one’s personality is shaped. A youngster is looking for an identity. Relations are in flux, life’s objectives, career goals are in flux and what not! At a certain age like this, one needs navigation. We understand this life-stage completely and help youngsters explore.
Our message is simple: Making mistakes is normal. We help youngsters navigate in finding what they want. For example, a show such as ‘Suvreen Guggal’ – since childhood, the protagonist is being nurtured and told in a way that academics are everything in life. But when she reaches college, she realises that this is not what she has to do! She wants to explore her passion and her interests and not what her father has been telling about conventional studies and conventional jobs. So we are creating a role model which is very unconventional, and a lot of viewers resonate to it. At some level, youngsters feel betrayed and guilty over not following the traditional path, while we hold a protagonist for doing something different. We are trying to convey that it is OK being confused in the path of realising what one wants to do. It’s OK to have a passion and it’s OK to do what one really wants to do.
Do you think that the youth is underserved in terms of content?
Absolutely! TV is not catering to this section. Most households are single TV households. Therefore, channels play what everyone wants to see.
Considering this need, do you want to start a YouTube channel?
We might want to have our own platform, not necessarily YouTube. We feel that there should be platforms other than TV. We are in discussion mode, and something will come out in the future.
Certain set of views that have emerged are that the ‘Gumraah’ seasons are very negative and they introduce naive teenage minds to perceptions they are not even aware of. Pls comment.
The concept is not negative at all. There are set of teenage crimes happening and they are not committed by hardened criminals, but by good middle class kids from good families who somehow feel the need to do this. What is required from people is to understand why this happens. We have helpline numbers and psychologists who come at the end of the show to tell why this happens. The host of the show mentions very pertinently that if one is noticing these signs, then they must tell their parents. It’s not cool to keep such things to oneself and try to solve them on your own.
The second thing is we are not sensationalising crime. We don’t show crime. We explore what happens before the crime and then after the crime. We have received calls from parents who have thanked us. There are certain issues which parents do not understand like cyber bullying, for example. Our objective is to help people and not pollute them.
What is the future for brand Channel V?
We will always be a very youth-focussed channel. Any initiative we take will be catering to youth desires and aspirations.