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Digital TV Russia plans to launch 3 channels in India

MUMBAI: After signing an MoU with the Indian pubcaster Prasar Bharati to jointly produce, market and distribute shows, Russian pay TV programmer Digital Television Russia (DTR) is now looking to enter the Indian market.

The company plans to launch a kids channel first, followed by a factual entertainment channel and a movie channel, depending on market response.

Dmitry-MednikovDTR, which is jointly owned by All-Russia State Television and Radio Broadcasting Company (VGTRK) and Rostelecom OJSC, will soon apply for broadcasting licences, DTR chairman of the board and Russia Television and Radio deputy CEO and chief development officer Dmitry Mednikov told TelevisionPost.com.

Talking about the plans, which are in a nascent stage right now, Mednikov said, “We are one of the biggest libraries of kids and preschool content. We have already started dubbing content in English and Hindi, and would be looking at launching a kids channel first in India. We will soon initiate the licence process.”

He added that the second channel is going to be a factual channel. “It is going to be a mix of multiple productions—Indian, international, and our own. The third stage is a Russian movie channel. But we will see whether and how it is interesting for the India viewer as traditional moviemaking in Russia and India is quite different.”

When asked when the company would be ready to launch the channels in India, Mednikov said that the kids channel should be ready for launch next year. “I think the kids channel will come up next year. We will see how the kids channel is growing,” he added.

DTR puts a lot of emphasis on research and different research technologies. “We create hundreds of pages of research every month to concentrate on the market, what they want, how we can provide better content. If everything goes as per the plan, we should start one channel every year.”

Business model

Though subscription revenues cover 80 per cent of pay channel revenues in Russia, only 20 per cent come from advertising. When asked if the channels would be subscription-driven or ad-supported, DTR deputy CEO, GM of international networks Ayuna Badmaeva said that these would be pay channels but with accessible pricing.

“We are comfortable with 80 per cent from advertising and Ayuna Badmaeva20 per cent from subscription as we are bringing premium content at accessible pricing,” she added. “We are looking to build strong partnerships in production, distribution, as well as ad sales.”

“For us, it is important that any family in Russia or India should be able to afford the channel and that it should be accessible to children,” Mednikov added.

Investments

Though both Mednikov and Badmaeva did not divulge the quantum of investment that DTR will be making in India for the channels, Mednikov added that it would be in “several million dollars”.

“We are here for the long term and not interested in easy money. We are interested in long-term partnerships with Indian media companies. We will be investing not just in channels, but also in production. Whatever money we earn, we will invest it back in India for local content, which we might take to other markets,” Mednikov added.

Content

Talking about the content on kids channels, Mednikov said that DTR is keen on what the audiences are going to get from our channels. “It’s not just entertainment. We have expertise on preschool content on educating children. We are trying to create a channel where parents can leave their three-year-old children in front of TV and rest assured that they are learning safely,” he added.

With respect to the Indian market, he said that the company is very happy that the Indian market is entertainment-driven. “We are very happy that the Indian market is focused on entertainment. It is impossible and useless to work in a market where all the good is done. You are not inventing or bringing anything new—what you are trying to do is to push your competitor out where they are successful. This is senseless work.”

Digital-Television-Russia-coverHe said that it is great that factual content and local kids content are not as concentrated as entertainment. “Because this is where we are happy to bring our expertise to this market,” he added.

On the movie channel front, Mednikov informed that apart from producing films, DTR is also a big acquirer of Russian films.

“We hold the rights to 90 per cent of movies and series in Russia. Along with our mother company, we produce about 30 per cent of them,” he added. “We want to bring these movies to India, but are not sure how Indians will respond to Russian movie content.”

DTR launched its first channel My Planet in late 2009 in Russia. Today, it produces and distributes 21 pay TV brands in kids, factual entertainment, movies, sports and general entertainment genres, and commands almost 29 per cent of the overall pay TV market share in Russia.

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