CTAM in NY: Chandra: More Distribution For Veria Living In View

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Wellness proponent Veria Living may have changed its name and tagline, but executives remain confident that the network supporting healthy lifestyles will soon find more footing with U.S. distributors.

Focused on the quality and vitality of life, Veria Living has supplanted Veria TV, accompanied by a new look. Featuring a newly created life cycle image, the logo, showcasing sunshine yellow and tangerine orange, integrates Eastern influence with Western design, according to network officials. They say the move is about "pop wellness," as the previous slogan, "Your Life Naturally," has given way to "Go Well."

That's what Subhash Chandra -- the media magnate who controls the Essel Group of companies in India and whose Zee TV programming from South Asia, in its various iterations, is now seen throughout the U.S. and 166 other nations -- believes will happen with continuing carriage negotiations for the wellness network he founded.

In a recent interview at the headquarters of Asia TV USA, the programmer's Stateside company, Chandra expressed confidence that Veria Living would ink distribution pacts with Cablevision and Comcast "pretty soon," adding that the question was whether the nation's largest distributor would grant the network launches or a hunting license to pursue deals with its regions and systems.

Thus far, the lifestyle channel counts Verizon FiOS, Dish Network and Frontier Communications as affiliates. Chandra said that in Asia TV USA's meetings with distributors, affiliate executives "recognize the value of this kind of programming and the quality of Veria TV's production."

All of Veria Living's programming is produced in the U.S., including The Incurables, hosted by recording artist Jewel, Sports Dads with Pro Football Hall of Famer and DirecTV pitchman Deion Sanders and The Guru in You (working title), the recently announced new series with yogi master, author and model Yogi Cameron.

Still, the distribution deals have not come as quickly as Chandra and Suresh Bala Iyer Bela, the CEO of Asia TV USA, had hoped. That's left the former to wonder why providers "don't need this content," especially when the network is not seeking license fees. Veria TV believes its business will initially trade on advertising as its reach grows. Executives believe there is plenty of potential there in what some estimate is a $170 billion industry in its various forms.

But the pace of negotiations has Chandra drawing from lessons espoused on Veria Living. "Wellness teaches you equanimity," he said.

Chandra said Veria's genesis originated from his native India, while he surveyed the global media landscape. While Zee TV programming continues to expand -- Asia TV USA scored rollouts for six more Zee channels with Dish Network in August and the programmer launched subtitled versions of South Asian fare in Saudi Arabia (movie channel Zee Aflam) and general-entertainment service Zee Russia, both of which could migrate to the States -- Chandra avers that Veria Living can cross any cultural boundaries and borders.

He points to the precepts that have existed in India for more than 5000 years, where people embrace and practice wellness to live happy and healthy lives.

"You can go to rural India, where people are making $10 to $15 per month," he said. "They are not complaining or crying, but smiling. They have the healthiness of wellness. This is something everybody needs."

To that end, syndication initiatives are ensuing. Chandra, who will become the first Indian to receive the International Emmy Doctorate Award in a ceremony in New York next month, says he hopes to launch a version of Veria TV in his homeland next year and establish networks in other nations in 2013.