Modi government to launch 'BBC World-like' Doordarshan channel
As India is facing criticism over its COVID-19 response, the Narendra Modi government is looking to launch a new "BBC World-like" channel to provide "India's point of view." Doordarshan's parent body, the national public broadcaster Prasar Bharati, has floated a draft Expression of Interest (EoI) regarding the establishment of "DD International." Officials said the channel has been in the pipeline for a long time.
Prasar Bharati floated the EoI last week seeking comments from private players. Thereafter, the EoI will be finalized and floated to invite bids from private players, who will then draft a Detailed Project Report (DPR) on DD International. According to the draft, the broadcaster reportedly seeks to hire a consultancy service "with experience in advising international broadcasters/media houses on projects of this nature."
The draft—accessed by ThePrint—reportedly mentioned that DD International's objective is to provide India's point of view globally on contemporary issues of both global and domestic significance and to "tell the India Story to a global audience." Other objectives of the move are to create "mindshare for India's strategic interventions within key stakeholders" globally and form a "talent hub" of global media professionals.
ThePrint reported that these could include marketing and branding strategies such as global awards, annual summits, webinars, engaging celebrated columnists, etc. It would also involve establishing bureaus around the world, identifying their locations, planning their implementation, etc.
Citing sources, ThePrint reported that "rigorous planning and preparations" for the channel have been underway for the past several months, particularly in the context of distribution. "There was some internal work going on in this aspect, but there was no prior experience in setting up a global channel," a source said. Hence, it was decided to hire private consultancy, they said.
The sources said that DD International will be on the lines of BBC World with the aim to attract viewers not just among the Indian diaspora but to truly find a global audience. DD International will mainly target the Indian diaspora, as opposed to DD India, which serves both domestic and global news. There will be appropriate content sharing between the two channels.
Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati told the publication that the EoI is regarding establishing Doordarshan's international presence through bureaus, reporters, time zones, and international content. "The strategy has to be innovative, leveraging digital and broadcast to get more value from reasonable investments," Vempati said.
Former Prasar Bharati chairman A Surya Prakash said that he welcomes the decision. During his tenure, Prakash headed a committee that had recommended setting up a digital platform to provide India's answers to "foreign press bias." "The way BBC, CNN or DW covers India, it is necessary that we also cover the events happening globally," he said.