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Making history "more entertaining"

Friday, April 28, 2006

New Delhi, (UNI): At a time when content on television is increasingly "entertainment driven", "information laced with entertainment" seems to be the motto of more and more "niche" channels like Discovery, MTV and V in their bid to broadbase their viewership.

The latest to jump on the bandwagon is the History Channel which, in a bid to make history more interesting, is making a well-defined shift to entertainment by presenting interesting stories from history through mini-series, re-enactments and films.

Announcing the more than three-year-old History channel's plans to pursue a new strategic direction in India by making a well defined shift to entertainment from May six, managing director of History Channel, Nikhil Mirchandani, in a press meet here, said,''the incorporation of these additional offerings on the channel is part of our strategic move from "infotainment to entertainment" through presentation of movies like Helen of Troy, Nero, Hitler, Haven and Augustus as also mini-series like The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

The basic objective is to broadbase our viewership by making the channel more entertaining while at the same time remaining true to our unique theme of History. The aim is to retain the essence of the History channel as we move towards becoming more entertaining in alignment with our viewers' interests and needs.'' Accordingly, the channel will now deliver to its viewers a spectacular combination of fact and fiction- for example the film 'Marlyn and Me' will be accompanied by the 'Biography of Marlyn Monroe'- thus fulfilling its promise to be informative while also being entertaining.

The interesting aspect of the shift to entertainment will be that the new content to be presented on the channel will be dubbed in Hindi, making its the first entertainment channel to be dubbed in Hindi, Mirchandani said.

As per the new programe schedule, the History channel will every month present to its viewers content based on a distinctive theme. The month of May will have war as its theme and, accordingly, will showcase films and series such as Hitler and Haven. June will be dedicated to the theme of Rome and the key films, mini series and factual series this month will revolve around the theme of Rome.

Explaining the channel's move to shift to the new programming, its senior Vice-President programming, Joy Bhattacharya said,''over the last more than three years, History Channel has managed to attract viewership from a section of the audience in India which is interested in knowing about the various aspects of history. Through this new programming, wherein the channel will deal with historical events and personalities from Rome to Hitler to Helen of Troy to Spartacus, we want to extend our reach beyond our limited section of viewers.

The aim is to get them interested in "slice of history" through films which have their favourite celluloid heroes like Martin Sheen, Omar Sharif and Daniel Craig enacting popular and interesting characters from history.'' In this context, Mirchandani expressed hope that the new programming content would double the revenues of the channel by increasing its viewership many fold.

''A large section of the new audience, say, a film like Gandhi or Hitler helps to know about the lives of these historical characters and documentaries on these people, which are already being aired on the channel, thus adding to our viewership,''he said.

Speaking on the new strategic positioning, Vice President, marketing, History Channel, Raesh Sheshadri said,''we are looking at an exponential increase in viewership by 2008. This increase in viewership is a function of first, our distinct positioning whereby, we are the only channel on History; second, the fact that we will debut familiar titles in entertaining formats; and third, visioning wherein the channel is also investing in providing its Hindi-speaking viewers with high quality programming that will enhance their viewing experience and allow them to enjoy internationally-acclaimed programmes.''

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