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EXCLUSIVE: BBC Asian Network goes ‘filmy’

Quite apparently, the BBC Asian Network appears to have woken up to the power of Bollywood and is planning to increase its film-based content across the weekend.

Reportedly, there are plans of two four-hour long shows on Saturdays and Sundays, can exclusively reveal. The changes are likely to take place mid-summer, it is being said.

This bit of news doing its rounds in the market doesn’t come as a surprise considering it was announced only last month that the station was contemplating increasing its Bollywood output.

One wonders what sort of editorial content and quality control will be maintained with as much as eight hours of weekly Bollywood programming and whether the right producers with an in-depth knowledge base about the film industry and contacts will be put on the job.

Most importantly, the question raised is whether the self-proclaimed ‘it’ boys, Raj Dhanda and Pablo Sat-Bhambra of ‘Film Cafe’, will continue to anchor the new programming property on one if not both days.

Recently, the presenter duo have come under enormous fire for making preposterous claims and concocting yarns about their so-called connections, enraging the media, film companies and actors alike. Should the Asian Network continue, needless to add, they will come under a strong media scanner with the possibility of film companies being discretionary about giving them content. While reported this in one of its erstwhile ‘Whispers’, British Asian paper Eastern Eye of last week even ran an expose on the duo’s allegedly false claims.

Despite strong production values and content on ‘Film Cafe’, it remains to be seen if and for how long their contract is renewed. Interestingly, the previous edition of ‘Film Caf̩’ bagged top reviews, as it featured Ameet Chana interviewing celebrities, Tusshar Kapoor and Manish Malhotra live from Mumbai, about their forthcoming film, ‘Kya Love Story Hai’.

The BBC Asian Network’s press and publicity officer Dina Rana confirmed the upcoming weekend changes will be a focus very on Bollywood. Asked if ‘Raj and Pablo’ were still in line to front the new sounding Bollywood shows, Dina said that a process of “piloting various voices” including that of ‘Raj and Pablo’ was currently ongoing.

Dina also confirmed that the new weekend Bollywood shows will go live on Saturday 16th and Sunday 17th June 2007.

In the last 18 months, the BBC Asian Network has come up trumps with a string of exclusive tie-ups, working impartially with a number of film distributors.

Currently, the latest film news, star interviews and film music is aired on the flagship Bollywood show ‘Film Cafe’ on Saturday mornings. There is also a Bollywood countdown show on Sunday mornings, titled ‘Sunday Soundtrack’. Both the shows have reached leadership position in their respective space.

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