Doordarshan, AIR could be made corporate
Prime Minister Modi's top panel of secretaries have recommended to him to make public broadcasters Doordarshan (DD) and All India Radio (AIR) corporate entities. This recommendation has been put forward so that government dependence of the two entities reduces and they receive flexibility and financial independence. According to a senior bureaucrat, "The idea is to make them corporate entities but under government control."
Doordarshan is one of India's largest public broadcasters, and has networks across radio, television and the internet. It started out from a makeshift studio in Delhi, before venturing out to radio transmission as All India Radio. Now over 57 years old, the broadcaster covers 90% of India's population. It scripted live coverage of popular sporting events like the Olympics, and other important ceremonies.
Doordarshan's initial growth spurt
When it started out, UNESCO had granted the broadcaster $20,000 and around 180 Philips sets to start the organization. It soon started telecasting popular American shows like He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and other popular Hindi shows such as Byomkesh Bakshi and Mowgli.
Doordarshan's viewership declines, mulls primetime slots sale
With the rise of competitive private players, Doordarshan's viewership and popularity amongst India's younger population began declining. The government-owned broadcaster mulled strategies to put its primetime bands on DD National for sale earlier this year. The sale would help Doordarshan source higher-quality content, but at no cost. Their revenue would be the slot fees paid by the broadcasters who purchased the primetime slots.
DD's slot sale fails
After considering strategies to revitalize the declining television channel, Doordarshan's attempts at selling its primetime slots in an auction failed. With a spree of production houses lining up for the auction, DD suffered a jolt when none of them met the eligibility criteria.
Doordarshan invites bids to produce content across its channels
The public broadcaster announced plans of inviting bids from various production houses to help boost production content across its channels. The company stated that any producer who has produced a minimum of 200 hours of general entertainment in any Indian language can apply. The turnover for the producer should also be a minimum of Rs.3 crore per annum across the last three fiscal years.
Doordarshan's future hinging on revival plans
After basking in the success of the 1980s and 1990s, Doordarshan's dwindling viewership of 82.66 million proves to be a concern for the broadcaster. Private broadcaster Star Plus has 706.324 million viewers. Doordarshan's future is at stake after attempts to rejuvenate their content business failed. After cancelling two rounds of applications for its primetime slot sale, it is hoping to get lucky this time.
Doordarshan's revenue plunges
In 2014, the broadcaster earned revenues of Rs.911 crore, which slipped to Rs.756 crore last year. Across the last four years, its revenue has slipped by 26%.