September 26, 2007
18:41 | 25/ 09/ 2007
MOSCOW. September 25 (RIA Novosti's Denis Zheleznyakov)
A Russian cable television channel devoted entirely to India has seen its viewership surge dramatically since its launch a little over a year ago.
India TV is run by the Red Media group, Russia's largest producer of theme channels, and it now broadcasts 24 hours a day.
The channel's editor-in-chief, Yury Podstolnikov, has told RIA Novosti that its audience is currently estimated at 5.5 million viewers, but has the potential to grow tenfold to 50 million. He says the only factor holding back the growth is that so far only 15% of the country's households have the equipment to receive cable television.
According to Podstolnikov, the channel is especially popular with the older generation, which is still nostalgic about Bollywood productions they enjoyed back in the Soviet era. In those years, films such as Awara, Bobby, Disco Dancer and Sita aur Gita would draw 40 to 63 million viewers to cinemas across the nation.
Nowadays, very few Indian films can be seen on the big screen in Russia, so the country's Bollywood fans cannot but welcome the all-Indian media outlet that offers them the best in Indian entertainment.
A public opinion survey conducted by the GFK Rus group showed that the bulk of the channel's audience is made up of women aged 16 to 54 (78% of the total viewership), who belong to the middle class (42.5%) and live in cities of 100,000 to 1 million (45%). It was precisely this population group that turned so many of Bollywood's Soviet-era releases into box-office hits in Russia.
More than 900 Indian films have been released in Russia in dubbed VHS- and DVD-format versions since films starring dynasty actor Raj Kapoor hit the screen in this country about half a century ago.
Along with re-running popular Bollywood oldies, India TV also shows new productions, including blockbusters. It also offers Indian soap operas and an assortment of home-produced lifestyle programs about Indian cuisine, celebrities, and so forth.
The content will soon be supplemented with broadcasts of prestigious film awards ceremonies, such as Filmfare, Screen, and IIFA, and television yoga classes
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