It’s Not Your Regular TV, It’s Bindass TV

April 2, 2010
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In February 2010, UTV Bindass launched a youth-oriented multi-media campaign in India called “What I am.”  The goal of the campaign was to counter stereotypes of young people as immature and irresponsible, and to promote an image of youth culture as hip, cool and responsible. The campaign features several young, urban Indians looking directly at the viewer/reader and proclaiming, “Just because I’m Bindass Doesn’t Mean I Do Drugs,” or “Just Because I am Bindaas Doesn’t Mean I Don’t Believe in God” followed by the tag line “UTV Bindaas. What I am.”  Bindaas or Bindass is a colloquial  Hindi word meaning cool and carefree without restraint.

UTV, one of India’s leading media & entertainment companies since the early 1990s, launched Bindass TV in September 2007, followed by the launch of its integrated web portal in July 2009. As described in the “About Us” section of the channel’s website, Bindass is “a celebration of being young in India.  Waxing eloquence on what it calls “Brand Bindass!,” the website goes on to claim that “Bindass is about being Fun, Frank, Fearless and valuing Freedom in all its forms.”

Bindass is, of course, not the first youth entertainment channel in India to make such exaggerated claims about its brand identity for the sake of self-promotion. MTV, Channel [V] and many other wannabe youth channels have inundated the satellite and cable lineup in Indian television for almost two decades now with upbeat messages about their ability to represent the virtues of youthfulness, freedom, rebellion and revolution.  What sets Bindass apart, according to its promoters, is that “it is India’s first 360 degree entertainment venture across television channels, mobile channels, web, gaming, merchandising, retail & nation wide ground events.”

Claiming that it is not just another TV channel, the website promotes Bindass as “a platform for like minded people to come together on tv, the web, mobile and at cafes.” Although its target audiences are in the commercially lucrative demographic category of youth (15-34 years), the channel also seeks to attract “the young at heart” proclaiming “Bindass is all about the attitude.”

The globalization of traditionally national television industries and cultures, along with the digital convergence of broadcasting, cable, satellites, cell phones and the internet, has transformed the televisual landscape dramatically in recent decades.  Much has been written about how audiences are experiencing an increasingly deterritorialized televisual culture by imagining the world as a stable landscape build around a dynamic set of disjunctive but overlapping global flows that Arjun Appadurai has theorized in terms of mediascapes, technoscapes, ethnoscapes, ideoscapes, and finanscapes. But little attention has been paid to the ways in which network executives around the world are working to re-territorialize the disjunctive flows of globalization, particularly since television flow is still a planned phenomenon as described by Raymond Williams.  Here I am referring to new programming and scheduling strategies like simulcasting, multicasting and webcasting being used by global networks to provide audiences with a seamless experience of  television not only in relation to commercial interruptions but in also in relation to the overlapping and disjunctive flows of globalization.

For instance, when a major American broadcasting network like ABC, NBC or CBS simulcasts English programming in Spanish it is a strategic attempt to re-territorialize the global flows of migrant and immigrant ethnoscapes and bilingual mediascapes into the planned flow of television in the United States.  Similarly, when major state-sponsored networks like CCTV in China or Doordarshan in India expand their services to reach diasporic audiences on satellite and cable channels around the world, it is a clear recognition of the growing influence of  transnational ethnoscapes and technoscapes in the globalization of their national cultures.  When a new media network like Bindass TV claims to provide a “360 degrees experience” by seamlessly migrating from cable television to a digitally-convergent platform of   TV+ cinema+ internet+ cellphones+ gaming+, it is yet another example of the reterritorializing strategies used by media networks to incorporate disjunctive global flows of youth culture into the planned flow of television culture.


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2 Responses to “ It’s Not Your Regular TV, It’s Bindass TV ”

  1. Jonathan Gray on April 6, 2010 at 2:57 PM

    It’s a really compelling clip there, Shanti, and it seems to balance neatly the victim narrative of “nobody understands us” well with a confidence that doesn’t seem to care too much that it’s misunderstood. It has something of the brilliance of MTV’s and FOX’s early days. The question is, is the channel worthy of the ads?

  2. Aswin on April 10, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    Great piece, Shanti. UTV’s entry into the “youth culture” segment is esp. interesting given that all the other major TV networks – the GECs like ZEE, Star, Sony, etc. – seem to have left this to MTV & [V]. They do have their reality (talent) shows like Dance India Dance and Indian Idol, but don’t seem invested in re-defining the TV-youth culture relationship.

    At the same time, the clip (which, I agree with Jonathan, is rather brilliant) makes it clear that UTV is interested in a very specific segment & imagination of contemporary youth culture. And this is where I think your focus on “reterritorializing strategies” is so useful. Your take on this opens up space for identifying and comparing other strategies in play in the Indian television business.

    I’ve been watching “Lift Karade,” the Karan Johar show where he brings together a star with three of her/his fans (who compete to get to meet the star, and in the process, help a “deserving” family). Episodes of Lift Karade provide glimpses of a starkly different youth culture – non-English speaking,
    middle-lower middle class, inhabiting spaces that are nothing like the ones we see in the clip above, and with aspirations that seem different as well. This show is produced by Yashraj Films, airs on Sony Entertainment Television, and conjures another picture of “youth culture.”
    [] – a clip of the very first episode starring Shahrukh Khan.