BBC Worldwide’s blitz for the India market with a bouquet of non-news channels is about to begin with the launch of BBC Entertainment and a kids channel ‘CBeebies’.
The UK-headquartered network has run a nine-month long gauntlet for government clearances, and the last of them – the downlinking license – is likely to be issued soon, industry sources said.
Besides these channels, BBC has lined up two more channels for India – BBC Lifestyle and BBC Knowledge. Once the Entertainment and kids channels are launched, license for introducing the other two channels too will be sought, BBC sources said. STAR has been roped in to distribute these channels, these sources said.
The new channels are being specifically customised and launched in India, though the brands will be introduced across other Asian markets as well, these sources said. Together with the news channel BBC World, the network thus aims to offer a bouquet of 5 channels.
Meanwhile, in a new restructuring exercise in the broadcasting behemoth, the news channel BBC World, that had an independent existence as a subsidiary in BBC Worldwide’s operations, is now being clubbed under the management of BBC Worldwide Global Channels – a broad spectrum, conglomerate of BBC’s international channels.
BBC kids channel CBeebies is likely to have a significant impact considering BBC’s long and successful experience in developing classic brands like Teletubbies and Tweenies. The kids channel also sources properties from independent producers such as Charlie & Lola.
BBC Entertainment, on the other hand, will be launched with a mix of international and local productions. BBC has successfully developed entertainment programming on its own as well as in co-production with others. ‘Yes Minister’ for instance was customised in India for STAR. It also has access to landmark programming such as Blue Planet and Dancing with the Stars, the international version of Strictly Come Dancing.
Regional headquarters for BBC’s new offerings are based out of Singapore and headed by Christine Leo-McKerrow, BBC Worldwide’s VP- Television Channels Asia.
BBC Worldwide is the commercial arm of BBC, and manages a range of media businesses around the world. For the year 2005-06, BBC Worldwide achieved sales of £784 million. It increased its profit before interest and tax to £89 million.