BBC to Offer "A Summer of Melas" via its Red-Button Interactive TV Service

--Releases List of Most-Watched Red-Button Content for 2010

The BBC said Tuesday that its BBC Asian Network will offer a special hour-long program, entitled "A Summer of Melas," through the BBC Red Button interactive TV service, from August 16th through 22nd (note: the "melas" to which the program is devoted are festivals that celebrate the music and culture of the UK's large community of Indian/South Asian immigrants and their descendants). According to the corporation, a similar program that if offered through the red button last year attracted an audience of 810,000.

"A Summer of Melas" will be hosted by a variety of Asian Network presenters, including "Breakfast Show" host, Tommy Sandhu, and is billed as showcasing the "best music, artists, interviews and culture" from the UK's South Asian community. Performances from the melas' biggest artists will be interwoven with other station activity, the BBC says, and the program will also feature performances from the BBC Introducing Stage, a new stage which was featured at the London Mela and which the corporation says showcased the best in "under-the-radar" Asian talent. "BBC Asian Network reached out to a record 400,000 people across 11 melas this summer, bringing them the best in Asian music and entertainment," Mark Strippel, head of music and events for the Asian Network, said in a prepared statement. "Our DJ's have demonstrated how closely this station connects and reflects our community roots across the UK, from Wilmslow Road through to Southall Broadway and Belgrave Road. Across 'A Summer Of Melas,' we've been taking photos of artists and audiences and filming selected performances, interviews and a flavor of Asian culture from each area we've visited. The 'A Summer Of Melas' Red Button TV program captures some amazing moments of a musical and cultural journey taken with our audience across the summer."

The BBC is encouraging viewers to "share their thoughts" on the "A Summer of Melas" red-button program via the Twitter hashtag, #melaredbutton. The corporation has also been offering video, audio and photo coverage of this summer's melas on the BBC Asian Network Web site, as well as video coverage on the network's Facebook and YouTube pages.

According to the BBC, its red-button interactive TV service has been attracting an average audience of 12 million viewers per week over the past 12 months. So far this year, the corporation says, the most popular BBC Red Button offering has been Winter Olympics content, which was watched by 9.9 million viewers. Other popular red-button offerings included coverage of the World Cup and Wimbledon, which attracted 8.9 million and 7.2 million viewers respectively; coverage of the Glastonbury and T in the Park music festivals, which attracted 4.1 million and 2.4 million viewers respectively; and a concert headlined by 80's musicians, Gary Numan and Heaven 17, which attracted 1.3 million viewers.

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