Coronavirus: TV channels to rely on episode banks, alternative content amid production halt

As film and television bodies decided to suspend shootings from March 19 to avoid coronavirus spread, the TV channels said they are relying on episode banks for their fictional shows while also looking at alternative content.

Indian Film & Television Directors” Association (IFTDA), Producers Guild of India and Federation of Western Indian Cine Employees (FWICE) on Sunday decided to put production and shooting on hold from Thursday to March 31.

Representatives from various channels said halting shoots was a necessary move and the focus now is to finish shooting with utmost care.

“There will be no shooting post March 19. For fictional shows, we always have a bank of episodes ready so that won”t be a problem as the shooting is on right now. But a call has to be taken on what happens when the episodes in the bank run out, if the situation remains the same,” a source from Colors channel told PTI.

Apart from daily soaps, the channel also currently airs reality show, “Mujhse Shaadi Karogi”, featuring “Bigg Boss 13” contestants Paras Chhabra and Shehnaaz Gill. It is most likely to go off air, at least 10 days before its scheduled end.

“Because there is no way it can be shot post March 19, it is likely that the show will be wrapped in the next two days. It was earlier supposed to end on March 27,” the source added.

While the reality show about finding a romantic partner stares at a possible premature end, another show, “Anupamaa” on Star Plus has been pushed ahead.

“Anupamaa”, which was to start airing from Monday, has been deferred as a precautionary measure for the entire cast and crew. Star Plus will now telecast hour-long episodes of “Yeh Rishta Kya Kehlata Hai”.

Popular television actor Rupali Ganguly, who plays the titular role of Anupamaa, said postponing the release of the show was in the best interest.

“This is a very special project for all of us and it’s a big decision to postpone the launch. When I see Anupamaa from an audience’s perspective, I feel each episode is shot beautifully and will touch their heart… May we tide over these trying times with safety and precaution,” Rupali said.

Star Plus is yet to take a call on the new date, even as an insider from the channel said the network is deciding what to air once they run out of the existing bank of episodes.

“Star is abiding by the decision of the unions. There will be no shooting post March 19. But we are yet to figure out what to air as the banks we have won”t be enough. An official call is yet to be taken on that,” the source added.

Representatives from Zee TV said the network will follow the decision of halting shoots as per the directives issued. They said they will also come up with “special episodes.”

“In times where social distancing is the need of the hour to curb the outbreak of COVID-19 and people are spending more time indoors, the idea is to provide audiences with the most engaging entertainment for the entire family.

“Talks are still on to arrive at a strategy that ensures viewers have the best content to look forward to in the said period. There will be special episodes and excitement galore in store for tv viewers considering they will spend more time indoors and collective family time for TV is expected to increase,” a statement from the channel said.

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, channels like Zee and Colors have also put a “temporary halt” to on-set visits for the media. Also, no bytes or special stories will be allowed as a precautionary measure to not encourage “mass gathering”.

The pandemic has affected several Bollywood films, with release date of Akshay Kumar-starrer “Sooryavanshi”, Yash Raj Films” “Sandeep Aur Pinky Faraar” to Rana Daggubati starrer “Haathi Mere Saathi” being postponed.

However, makers of “Angrezi Medium”, starring Irrfan, Kareena Kapoor Khan, Radhika Madan and Deepak Dobriyal, went ahead with the scheduled release of the film on Friday.

They announced to release the film on a later date in Delhi, Kerala and Jammu and Kashmir, where cinema halls are under lockdown till March 31.

Karnataka, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu and parts of Maharashtra have also called for a shutdown on theatres till the month end, to contain the virus that has been declared a pandemic by the WHO.

Not just TV shows and films, even performances, screening and other direct broadcast happening at National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) will be rescheduled to a later date.

The number of coronavirus cases in India has risen to 114, according to official figures.

The novel COVID-19, which originated in China”s Wuhan city, has claimed over 6,500 lives and infected more than 169,000 people over 135 countries and territories.

―Outlook India

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