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India plans first telethon

Guild members seek to help tsunami victims

MUMBAI — The Film & Television Producers Guild of India and the Bollywood industry will hold the country’s first telethon to aid victims of December’s South Asian tsunami.

The six-hour “Help! Telethon Concert” will air Feb. 6.

Organizers have roped in more than 30 TV stations, a number of radio networks and Web sites to simulcast the telethon.

Archrivals Murdoch’s Star TV, Sony’s SET, Subhash Chandra’s Zee TV and pubcaster Doordarshan will set aside hard-fought ratings wars to simulcast the single feed comprising events and commercials. The event is expected to reach more than 308 million viewers.

Featuring the biggest names in Bollywood — including Amitabh Bachchan, Aishwarya Rai and Shah Rukh Khan — the telethon will offer Indians the opportunity to chat with their favorite thesps apart from participating in online auctions.

Money collected will be held in a separate account as part of the Indian Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.

The previously announced Indian and Pakistani film artists’ concert in Mumbai on Feb. 6 will form part of the fund-raiser but will air Feb. 12.