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`Cartoon network focus on India-centric image-building'

Sriram Srinivasan

CHENNAI, June 16

PLAY the famous Barber of Seville, `starring' Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd, to the background score of Johnny Walker's Pyaasa movie number Sar jo tere chakraye... , not to Gioacchino Rossini's music, and you've a perfect mix of two old-world classics from two different parts of the world.

But for Cartoon Network's Senior Vice-President & General Manager, Mr Ian Diamond, the Bugs Bunny promo represents more than just a blend of a couple of works of entertainment — it's a step toward "India-centric image-building".

Mr Diamond said the channel has, right from its India launch in 1995, been trying to incorporate India-specific content. One of the aspects of localisation in which it has ventured into aggressively over the past two years is related to acquiring locally produced animation films, of which it currently has seven. For the record, it has already acquired the telecast rights of Hanuman from the Trivandrum-based Toonz Animation India Pvt Ltd, its seventh Indian acquisition, an animation film about the legend of Alibaba (Pentamedia), and a fantasy film called Chota Birbal (Mumbai-based Climb Media).

Mr Diamond told Business Line that the channel has pre-bought these animation works. The acquisitions have come at a time when Cartoon Network is premiering The Adventures of Tenali Raman (its fourth local `buy'), another Toonz-produced animation.

The 13-episode animation film, which the channel started telecasting on June 14, is being promoted with the tag line `Get ready for the Raman effect'. The cartoon series is available in English and Hindi.

The first three locally produced animation films the rights for which were acquired by the channel, and "which did well in terms of ratings", were Pandavas — The Five Warrior (Pentamedia), Sinbad — Beyond The Veil of Mists (Pentamedia) and Ramayan — The Legend Of Prince Ram (an Indo-Japanese co-production).

Mr Diamond said the India-specific content, combined with "key international properties" such as Pokemon and Jackie Chan Adventures as also "classics" such as Scooby Doo and Popeye would make Cartoon Network "the number one place for animation".

The accent on building an India-centric image has led the channel into investing "heavily in dubbing", he said. Also, Cartoon Network wants to build a strong association with consumers, for which it has been tying up with sponsors for marketing and promotional events. "We believe Cartoon Network is not just a TV channel but is a lifestyle brand."

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