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Indian characters get ready for cartoon wars

Diamond Comics, the publisher of the Chacha Chaudhary comic books, plans to start a Hindi TV channel that will feature Chacha Chaudhary and his trusted friends Saboo, Billoo and others, reports Sauarbh Turakhia.
Hindustan Times | By Sauarbh Turakhia
UPDATED ON JUN 18, 2008 11:24 PM IST

From being a role model and comic book hero, to appearing on a television cartoon show based on his adventures, Chacha Chaudhary has come a long way. Giving him company will be his trusted friends Saboo, Billoo and Chotu Lambu.

In an environment that’s flooded with high-profile international animation channels that have little to none India-generated content, Diamond Comics, the publisher of the Chacha Chaudhary comic books plans to start a Hindi television channel that will feature these very Indian characters. The channel would be launched by January 2009.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, Gulshan Rai, managing director of Diamond Comics said: “We are in an advanced stage of negotiations with a foreign investor who will pump in approximately Rs 100 to Rs 200 crore for a 60:40 revenue sharing arrangement between the investor and us.”

The company, which has a turnover of about Rs 50 crore plans to recover the investment made by the foreign partner, in three years. It will closely work with four animation companies, one of which is film maker Ketan Mehta’s animation company, Maya.

Rai is confident of getting advertisers such as Britannia, Parle, Perfetti India and Cadbury for the channel.

“Till now, we have seen only foreign characters on cartoon channels. There is no Indian character that Indian children can relate to. Our desire is to create an Indian channel, which will show content of Indian relevance and stories of Indian culture through Indian characters,” said Rai.

Samir Patil, CEO and Founder of Amar Chitra Katha (ACK) Media, which is also considering the possibility of going through the television route agreed: “There is a clear gap as far as Indian content on animation channels is concerned.”

“We are evaluating the possibilities for a presence in television either through our own channel or through partnership. The opportunity is definitely there—as television has become an important medium to reach kids and in a way, it is necessary to be present on television,” said Patil.

“Multiple platforms such as DTH are also a clear boost. However, transformation of the characters from print to television will be critical,” he added. He also said that the minimum cost to start a television channel would be Rs 75 to Rs 80 crore.

However, Chandamama, which is understood to have been in talks with existing television channels to show its content has no plans to start a channel. “We are in the content business. Television is essentially an infrastructure business, which we will stay away from. We will however provide our content to television channels”, said L Subramanyan, CEO of Chandamama.

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