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Kids' channels get ready for summer

Jai Arjun Singh | April 23, 2005

The last time Ian Diamond, senior vice-president and general manager, Turner Entertainment Networks Asia, was addressing the Indian media, it was for the launch of Pogo, Turner's first live-action TV channel for kids.

Nearly a year and a half on, Diamond has a much more relaxed air about him. Which is understandable, for the success of Pogo has meant that Turner holds a share of around 80 per cent of the children's TV market -- with the flagship channel, Cartoon Network, accounting for around 60 per cent.

Now Turner is beefing up its local content with locally generated programming. "We are investing heavily in producing high-quality locally produced shows," says Diamond.

Premiering this week is a new show titled M.A.D. (Music, Art and Dance), which continues Pogo's tradition of interactive programming for young children, who will be encouraged to send in their artwork for display on the show.

Another interactive programme, intriguingly titled Bam Bam Bam! Gir Pade Hum! will be launched on the same channel later in the summer.

When Pogo was launched, there was some scepticism about how relevant some of the programming would be to Indian kids; international shows dubbed in Hindi, for instance.

Has the move towards localisation been a response to those raised eyebrows? "Our aim is to provide a perfect balance," says Diamond. "On the one hand, there has to be good local programming. But we are also adamant about the need for continuing the best international content."

Hence Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which will have its Indian television premiere next month and will be telecast in four languages -- English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu.

"Shows like Tom and Jerry have a universal appeal," says Diamond, "and we want to mix them with programmes that have relevance to this region."

Diamond is cautious about discussing new trends in children's television. "It's inadvisable to talk about trends in one market as being representative of general trends," he says.

"Ultimately, it's all about creating shows that are relevant to children everywhere."


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