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Zee Kannada goes on air today; Malayalam channel next on Zee agenda

11-May-2006
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Zee Kannada goes on air today; Malayalam channel next on Zee agenda

Zee Telefilms’ 27th channel, Zee Kannada, goes on air today. This follows the launch of Zee Telugu last year, and on the cards next for the Zee group in the South is a Malayalam channel.

Said Punit Goenka, Director, Zee Telefilms, “We did enter the South some time ago, but it turned out to be wrong timing for us and we had to withdraw. It’s now time to be here, and be here for long. We are approaching the first anniversary for Zee Telugu, and very soon, we will have plans for the Kerala market. And then for the Tamil Nadu market.”

Zee Kannada goes on air today (May 11, 2006) at 5:00 a.m. with the tagline ‘Kannadigara Kanmani’, in a launch delayed by 20 days owing to the demise of Kannada film icon Rajkumar. Extensive outdoor advertising and direct contact programmes have helped familiarize the brand with Kannada audiences, said Ajay Kumar, Business head, Zee South Channels.

Ajay Kumar said, “The entire entertainment industry in Karnataka is starting to do very well. The film industry is at its best ever. The state and the Kannada audiences are a challenge for any kind of broadcasting, media or media research. Across the state, we have people appreciating TV in at least two languages -- Kannada and Hindi, Kannada and Telugu/Tamil, and so on. They look for the best in any language.”

That explains why the channel went about extensive direct contact programmes involving seven lakh households. The sample was contacted twice over, and the interactions helped freeze on the programming mix of the channel, explained the spokesperson.

Another factor that should work for the channel is the distribution. Test signals were on by Wednesday, when the media was briefed of the launch. A prime band positioning and more than 2,000 reception boxes later, the channel is confident that it will beam into households across the state from day one.

“We would work very closely with the Kannada film industry. We appreciate the fact that the growth of the film industry will help us grow too,” added Kumar. The programming reflects a mix of soaps, game shows, youth-based shows, home entertainment (telefilms), and more. While the channel has already procured around 30 films, more are coming in, channel officials disclosed.

Ground events have also been lined up, and ‘Greeshma Vrishti’, chronicling Kannada cinema through the ages, was the first. That event was held even before the channel could be launched. Up next is a tribute to the late Kannada actor Rajkumar, scheduled for May 17, 2006, at the Kanteerva Stadium.

The channel debuts in pay mode, and will compete for eyeballs in an estimated six million households. Zee Kannada hopes to play a role in increasing that number, even as it competes with Doordarshan, Udaya TV, Usha TV and ETV Kannada, for what it estimates to be a Rs 180-crore annual ad pie.

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