Ten and ticking
SANGEETA BAROOAH PISHAROTY
Cartoon Network celebrates ten years of existence in India with an array of new initiatives.
Photo: KAMAL NARANG
NO KIDS' BUSINESS THIS Ian Diamond, Turner International's Senior Vice President and Managing Director, Asia, and the company's Managing Director in India Anshuman Mishra in New Delhi
There was a time when a `kids channel' in India meant only Cartoon Network. But that was 10 years ago.
Now the phrase kids channel elicits the response, which one? Still, you won't catch Cartoon Network's Asia head Ian Diamond falling short of treating the channel's successful completion of a decade here as anything less than "a celebration". But yes, it is stocktaking time too.
"We have always provided quality stuff to kids everywhere in the world, and that is why we have had such a popular stint in India as well. Way back in 1991, we entered an uncharted territory and for all these years, we have set the benchmarks for kids' entertainment in India," says Ian. On a visit to New Delhi this past week, he is no doubt a scale above what we would call confident. To maintain the tempo, he names a whole lot of new initiatives to keep the Indian kids continuously hooked to both the Turner International channels, CNT and Pogo. And the mantra, or rather the foresight here, is more and more of localisation.
"By early next year, we shall have an Indian version of our very popular series `Sesame Street'. The Delhi-based production house, Miditech will make the show," he announces. Also, both the channels will see few more regional versions but he would prefer to wrap up saying, they are just on the drawing broad for the moment.
And what seems to be a potent weapon of Disney channel against CNT, a slot for pre-schoolers, will also appear on Cartoon Network soon, he says. "We have done a survey with some of the gatekeepers of kids' early education and they all have said our shows are the best when it comes to teaching cognitive skills to toddlers on TV," Ian says.
Anshuman Mishra, the company's Managing Director in India, adds, "From this October, we are having a brand new logo of Cartoon Network and we have rung in the next decade with a younger, snazzier look." Started five years ago, "Toon Cricket 2005" will be back soon with former Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram and former Australian cricketer Mark Waugh.
To celebrate Diwali, Cartoon Network will premier seven animated feature films and two Indian features - "Ramayana" and "Vikram Betal" in four languages - English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu. Pogo too shall have a special programming stunt called "Diwali Jadoo Mantar" which will have five Hollywood kids' blockbusters like "Baby's Day Out", "Home Alone" "Harry Potter And The Sorcerer's Stone", "Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets" among others.
"Can you imagine a kids' channel without showing a Harry Potter film? Only Cartoon Network will have it for kids," Ian throws up the challenge to the competitors. He however quickly swerves away from naming any competitors directly.
"Finally, if you have the ratings supporting you, you have to be the best. The domestic players just can't give an experience of the global kids' entertainment," he states. And the only channel that seems to be offering competition to Cartoon Network at the moment is its sister concern, Pogo. Here's a case of healthy sibling rivalry!
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