Prime TV celebrates a successful year in the industry

Friday, 12 November 2010 20:56 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

A mere year since its establishment, the highly popular Prime TV celebrates its success in a highly competitive industry, being able to accumulate a large viewership in such a short period of time. Head of Prime TV Miuru Jayaweera, a key personality in the success of the new entity shared her views on the television channel’s launch, present functions and plans for the future. Following are excerpts from the interview:

By Cassandra Mascarenhas

Q: It is now exactly one year since the channel has been in operation; how would you say the response to Prime TV has been so far?

A: The response has been very encouraging. All English TV channels in the country compete to cater to one small and very specific audience segment and are constrained without being able to cater to the masses.

In addition to this, English speaking people, which are mostly concentrated in Colombo and Kandy, opt out of local English channels at the disposal of a multitude of international TV channel choices offered by cable and satellite providers.

In the midst of these very discouraging limitations, Prime TV has been able to secure a considerable amount of audience loyalty within the short span of time it has been on air.

Prime today has the most number of live call–in shows focusing on all genres of music, current affairs and education. It’s very encouraging to entertain the high number of calls each programme gets every week. Prime TV today stands out with this interactive audience approach.

Prime TV has also been able to create sub brands like The Round Table, Prime Sunrise, and Ayubowan Sri Lanka that have proven to be popular with the English speaking households in the country.

Q: Why was Prime TV started?

A: Prime TV was started as a long-awaited initiative to launch the English language arm of Sri Lanka’s most senior television station, ITN which has 32 years of on air life to its credit.

The then chairman of ITN, the charismatic Anura Siriwardena took the bold step in materializing and initially designing Prime TV with the hope of expanding its reach to even the rural areas of the country, in a bid to sustain the government’s concept of “English as a life skill”.

Today, under the expert guidance of the current Chairman of ITN, Rosmund Senaratne along with the experience and the career expertise of DGM Productions Vipula Ratnasiri and DGM Marketing Upali Ranjitha, I am taking Prime TV forward to meet the demands of an ever-evolving English speaking audience in Sri Lanka.  

Q: Could you give a short description of what exactly Prime TV focuses on, some of the programmes etc.?

A: Prime TV upholds and nurtures all things national.  It is with this national outlook that we take on the international language, as English is known, on Prime TV.

Prime’s aim is to educate all Sri Lankans of the link language while catering to the whole family, as well as meeting the expectations of the established English speaking audiences in the country with a fresh, Sri Lankan approach. In the duration of a year, I have been able to make Prime the TV channel that harbors the highest number of locally produced television programmes in the country.

Prime TV today is also undoubtedly the English TV channel that fosters the most number of television presenters.

Through the daily morning current affairs shows, ‘Prime Sunrise’ and ‘Ayubowan Sri Lanka’, to the teenagers’ live education show, ‘Prime Sunset’, the weekday night talk show “The Round Table’, the five music shows that are telecasted throughout the week, to the Poya Day discussion, ‘Dhamma Forum’, Prime boasts a psychedelic bevy of presenters who bring in their own essence to the channel.  

Sri Lankans are an audacious lot. It’s amazing how talent is being suppressed without being recognized in these people. I strive to carve out a path for these talented men and women to showcase their abilities by making Prime TV their platform.

Q: As the head of Prime TV, what does your role consist of? How has it been being a part of a new initiative such as this?

A: Prime TV’s 24 hour programme line-up and seven daily live shows, including news telecasts are indicators of the kind of responsibility and the pressure that its head has to undergo.

It’s not only the quantity of programming and the presenters that I have to constantly monitor but also Prime itself, benchmarking renowned international TV channels in a bid to enhance its content and outlook quality.

I have studied and have been in the media industry both here and overseas for the past ten years. Luckily for me, I had the chance and the enthusiasm to experience the A to Z of the production line of television with regard to programming as well as news telecasting and not with just English television programming and presenting but also in the Sinhala medium. For Prime TV therefore this experience acts as a vital strength in order to understand the psychology of the Sri Lankan audiences and to cater to these specified segments in our society to expand our viewership.

I am ever thankful to the former chairman of ITN Mr. Anura Siriwardena for believing in me and giving me this very challenging role.

Q: What would you say makes it different from the other channels out there?

A: With its wide variety of local programming catering to a diverse audience, Prime has made its mark in being different from the others.

From veteran TV personalities such as Kumar De Silva, Premasara Epasinghe, Daya Abeysekara, Bevil Palihawadena, to mainstream TV presenters such as Mahesh Senanayake, to novices who present the teenage educational shows, Prime TV parades a knowledgeable and entertaining TV anchor line up throughout the day, sharing their own value and bringing in their own set of fans and followers to the channel.

Not only does the channel act as a platform for musicians, fashion designers, corporate giants, award-winning sports personalities, the high-end diplomatic community, sought-after celebrities and politicians but with its variety of programming, Prime TV also gives the opportunity for the Sri Lankan public to use its airtime as a promotional tool to announce and publicize their events, be it an exhibition, a book launch, a school play or a special project.

Q: Who really handles the day-to-day functioning of Prime TV?

A: The 24 hour, multi-faceted, multi-faced, Prime TV’s behind the scene execution lies in the capable hands of a small hardworking, young team of producers, editors and graphic designers.

The sense of fraternity within the production team is amazing. One is nothing without the other. Just as much as the team at Prime, the strong support of the senior staff of ITN has made what Prime TV is today.

Q: Do you have any specific plans for Prime TV now that you have reached your one year anniversary? Any plans for expansions or additions of any sort?

A: Prime TV is now viewable on UHF 24, Channel 75 of Dialog TV, PEO TV and on live web streaming for international viewing on Prime is ambitious and plans on expanding its terrestrial coverage to Kandy and Down South in the near future.