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Men tune in to Star One

Abhilasha Ojha | October 23, 2004

What channels do men watch? Star TV is hoping that warm-blooded young men will soon be surfing their way to Star One, the new channel being launched on November 1.

"Our new channel is for those who are Indians at heart but have a global outlook," says Sameer Nair, Chief Operating Officer, Star Television.

Why is Star making a special effort to attract men with its new channel? Partly, it's because advertisers feel that the saas-bahu serials being churned out for Star by Balaji Telefilms aren't pulling in male audiences.

So the new channel will have all types of entertainment genres including action, comedy, lifestyle, youth and original movies.

There will be programmes like He Man, where each episode will have 10 men vying for the votes of 150 women. Then there's a show on gadgets and gizmos called Men Mange More and a cooking-for-dummies sort of show called Cook Na Kaho.

Also, there's Pyar Ki Kashti Mein, which was shot during a 29-day shoot on a cruise ship called SuperStarVirgo. "A crew of 45 people from Star Television shot for nearly 29 days on our ship," says Naresh Rawal, senior manager, marketing, Star Cruises.

Nair insists that the channel won't pull away audiences from Star Plus. "The channel is definitely not competing with Star Plus. In fact, with Star One we're targeting the urban, upwardly mobile Indian audience with an array of 21 original programmes."

The channel is targeting the age group between 25-35. Nair's hoping that the new channel will have viewers reaching for their remotes and tuning in.

Making room at the Inn

Ram Parshotam Mittal, chairman of the Rs 100-crore (Rs 1 billion) Mittal Ispat Ltd, is working double shifts these days. Apart from handling his steel manufacturing business in Pondicherry, where he runs a mini-steel plant, Mittal is working around the clock to open a  450-room hotel in Delhi's Ashok Road by March 2005.

Mittal bought the former 558-room Hotel Indraprastha, or Ashok Yatri Niwas to budget travellers familiar with the place, from the India Tourism Development Corporation in October 2002.

He paid Rs 45 crore (Rs 450 million) for the property and partially demolished the old structure to build a luxury hotel that will have a "mixture of Roman and Spanish architecture".

In his first venture into the hospitality business, Mittal finds that he has to "learn things from experience."  "The old place was a mess, full of leaking roof and dank walls. Just cleaning up the debris cost us Rs 15 lakh," says Mittal.

But Mittal is not scrimping on costs to turn it into one of the finest hotels in the city. Onyx basins in the bathrooms, hand-crafted furniture from Biesse, a European furniture company, imported linen and other state-of-the-art gadgets will add a touch of luxury to the hotel, he says.

The ambience and quality of service will be unmatched," he adds. The hotel will also have a swimming pool, bar and restaurant, a business centre and service apartments.

While Mittal won't disclose how much he's investing, he has hired Mumbai-based architecture firm Talati & Sons.  With rooms in short supply in the city, hopefully, Mittal's hoping to complete it before the peak season in 2005.

De-stress with gadgets

Nowadays it isn't enough for high-tech gadgets to simply offer state-of-the-art technology; they have to entertain customers too.

Whether it's a PDA, a smartphone, or now a laptop, if it doesn't have an MP3 player, a DVD player and rewriter, a digital video camera and video editor, then it's old hat. HP's latest line in notebooks, the Compaq Presario V2000 range, encapsulates this perfectly: they have bypassed the business angle all together to market the product solely as a "mobile Digital Entertainment companion".

This otherwise run-of-the-mill notebook series differentiates itself by its ability to turn into a mini home entertainment system. With its wireless mobility, it can hook up with PCs, handhelds, MP3 players, cameras and even televisions and stereos.

Its high definition display, quality speakers and 14-inch screen will make, its producers promise, watching movies a "user's delight".

Despite this, given all the new products hitting the market nowadays, HP will have its work cut out for them to differentiate their new line. Putting on a brave face, however, they say that they will have no problem marketing this `unique' product.

"There is no other product out there with this kind of flexibility," says Ravi Swaminathan, Vice-President, Personal Systems Group, HP India Sales Pvt Ltd. "Notebooks are traditionally seen as a serious work tool, but with our new range, the busy executive will be able to de-stress on the move." 

Additional reporting by Maitreyee Handique and Samyukta Bhowmick

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