Leading Indian media conglomerate Viacom18 is all set to expand its offerings with the new launch of a General Entertainment Channel (GEC) in the Bhojpuri market. The launch of BDM Bhojpuri will mark the entry of Viacom18 in the Bhojpuri market.
The broadcaster participated in the 44th DD Free Dish E-Auction and landed a MPEG-2 slot for its yet to be launched Bhojpuri GEC channel. The Bucket B slot is believed to have cost Viacom18 in the range of Rs 12 crores. The channel has been earmarked as a Bhojpuri GEC by the broadcaster in its submission to Prasar Bharati.
Given the fact, that broadcasters have to provide clear, unambiguous proof in support genre/language classifications it is pretty clear that the channel will be a Bhojpuri GEC. The test signal of ‘BDM Bhojpuri’ has also been started by the broadcaster on Monday. The channel is currently airing on Intelsat 20 on 4037 H frequency.
While those channels which won MPEG-2 slots are slated to go on air on the DD Free Dish platform from April 1, it remains unclear as to when the official launch from Viacom18 is scheduled to happen. Prasar Bharati rules state that the channels are required to be placed on its platform within one month from the date of allotment of the slot. It also asks broadcaster to provide publicly available evidence to establish a commitment to launch the said channel within a reasonable time period.
Viacom18 had on 4 March registered a trademark in the name of ‘Rishtey Laheriya’. It then went on to register another trademark named ‘Rishtey Bhojpuri’ on 19 March. The latter could likely be the new name of BDM post-I&B Ministry approval.
The broadcaster is also yet to amend its RIOs to notify the launch of BDM Bhojpuri for pay DTH and cable operators. It could launch the channel initially for DD Free Dish viewers with the official launch later. The impasse over NTO 2.0 has made big broadcasters pause their channel launches. The restrictions all over the country due to COVID-19 also make things hard at this juncture for new channel launches. Viacom18 had in 2017 launched its Tamil GEC with dummy name NXT which was launched officially as Colors Tamil in 2018.
Viacom18 has also started the test transmission of Pick-a-trick, Eco-Lution, and Connected. The broadcaster was granted 9 new licenses in March 2019 under dummy names. 5 of the were cancelled earlier this month with the licenses deemed not required. All four licenses that were granted last year are now on the air from Intelsat 20. The broadcaster had also earlier restarted the transmission of Rishtey Cineplex on Intelsat 20 earlier this year. It remains to be seen if Viacom18 will launch a few more channels along with BDM Bhojpuri.