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Our weekday programming is fairly strong and we are strengthening the gaps: Pradeep Hejmadi

Zee TV has remained at No. 3 in the Hindi GEC hierarchy for almost six months now. Pradeep-interview-250Some of its fiction shows are not working, and the channel is busy strengthening its weekend offering.

Amid all this, programming head Namit Sharma decided to move on just after 14 months with the company. Now Zee TV business head Pradeep Hejmadi is managing the additional responsibility of programming.

TelevisionPost.com’s Gaurav Laghate caught up with Hejmadi at the launch of ‘Fear Files’ to talk about the way ahead for the channel.

Edited excerpts…

Zee TV has remained at No. 3 for almost six months now. Some shows in the weekday primetime are not performing. How are you planning to correct that?

It’s always a brick-by-brick, step-by-step approach. We have strengthened our weekend, which was our strategic aim. Therefore, on weekends we have ‘Maharakshak Devi’ at 7 pm, ‘Neeli Chhatri Waale’ at 8 pm, and  ‘DID Super Moms’ at 9–10.30 pm. With ‘Fear Files’, we will have a full-fledged strong weekend offering.

Our weekdays are fairly strong. Yes, there are some gaps, which we are now strengthening further.

‘Jodha Akbar’ has dipped in ratings, so has ‘Bandhan’. Which all are the problem areas?

We are not in an unhappy place. 6.30 pm should start performing now. We have to get our 7 pm (‘Bandhan’) and 7.30 pm show (‘Hello Pratibha’) right. ‘Jodha Akbar’ [8 pm] will need some work.

From 8.30 pm till 11 we are sorted. With ‘Jamai Raja’ at 8.30 pm, we are at a fairly strong position, while ‘Kumkum Bhagya’ (9 pm) is one of the top-rated shows. ‘Qubool Hai’ and ‘Doli Armanon Ki’ are also among top three shows in the slot, while ‘Satrangi Sasural’ is a slot leader.

‘Fear Files’ is again based on real-life stories. Earlier, you had ‘Zee Horror Show’, which was purely fiction. Has fiction stopped working in the horror genre?

What happens is that one tends to rely more on larger-than-life props, make-up and stuff like that, and then you only push the envelope harder and harder in that. After that, you go very far from reality and tilt towards, with all due respect, the Ramsay era.

At one point, audiences just snap out of it, so you have to respect the contemporary sense. That’s why we have ensured staying with a contemporary programming treatment.

Apart from ‘Fear Files’, there will be two more shows on Zee TV…

We are going to launch ‘Tum Hi Ho Bandhu Sakha Tumhi’ and ‘Ek Tha Raja Ek Thi Rani’. We haven’t put the time bands out yet. We will announce soon.

You have recently launched a new show at 6.30 pm, but it is yet to pick up. How are you looking at strengthening it?

Obviously, 6.30 pm is a new slot that we have opened with ‘Service Wali Bahu’. We didn’t have any show there since ‘Pavitra Rishta’ ended last year. So it will take some time. Now the show is going to have an important chapter, where the protagonist is going to be the ‘bahu’. So we expect the plot to thicken now and start picking up.

Any plans of expanding original programming hours in weekdays to 11.30 pm?

Eventually, we will launch original shows at 11 pm, but not at the moment. We are looking at the space.

BARC is going to roll out ratings from later this month. What do you expect?

I believe the rank order is looking the same from what I have heard. As they are coming out first with the household-level data and not individual, the viewing levels will obviously look greater as it will be the aggregation of all the members in the household. But, you can’t do profiling, so you wouldn’t know who the core viewer is.

I think in course of time, once the data stabilises at an individual level, we will get parity data with what we have at the moment.