DD Sahyadri, the Marathi channel under Doordarshan, announced revamp of their prime time slot through the launch of 9 new shows. With the launch of BARC rural ratings, it is expected that these shows will get the eyeballs needed to compete with the private players in the genre.
Mukesh Sharma, Additional Director General – DD said, “BARC has come up and it is fair now. Earlier we were shouting for not taking into account the rural audience and the money that we have lost as a result of that also. But all said and done your content has to be professional. Even if it is for rural it has to be professional”.
He further added, “We will give the producers and their shows 13 weeks time and if in that time they are able to generate some TRPs (ratings) and in that time we will be able to have some benchmark TRPs for them. Once they have the benchmark TRP then upto that we will be paying them, if it less we will deduct, if it is more we will give them more, further down the line.”
Excerpts from the conversation with Sharma on the shows and the revenue plans for the channel:
What is the investment put on the shows?
For a regional channel anything which is over Rs. 2 lakh is a good budget. See budgeting is like this, either you give them more number of episodes or you give them more money and make two episodes. So what I did was say that lets not have one or two, let’s have 3, 4 or 5. Even if I am giving say Rs. 1.5 or 2 lakh in between, it depends on the programme also. An outdoor programme, for instance, needs more money. Money is commiserating. Also I don’t want to create a programme which is just today giving me money. I am looking for a long shelf life. All these programmes are so well made that even if I dub it in Hindi there is a viewership in the North. I will recover the money the next day if not today. In terrestrial still my money is secure.
For how long are you going to depend on the revenues from terrestrial?
In the good old terrestrial there is some money left still. That money still works out to several crores. So advertisers are still keen to spend on that till it is finished completely in another 2 or 3 years. But now, I will have to work much harder to ensure I have a place on the dish or satellite network.
What are the brand categories still spending terrestrial?
The FMCG category is the biggest. My biggest client is HUL, they spend more than Rs.100 crore for the whole country. We have signed a volume incentive scheme with them also. As they are spending more than Rs.100 crore we are giving them somewhere around 28% free ads.
What has been the reaction from advertisers on the BARC ratings of Doordarshan?
In these two weeks if you have seen the BARC ratings, if the regional channel have done good. The national channel if you see has done good, but cross your fingers because cricket was there. It is a free-to-air (FTA) channel, so you don’t have to pay for it unlike Star Sports where you have to pay for it. I would only come to know after another two weeks. But if my TRP and rating have gone back then it is genuine because there is no cricket there.
How long will it be before Doordarshan can earn enough revenues to be self sustaining?
Now we are no more a government organization. Prasar Bharati is answerable to the government so we have to be self sustainable now. Whatever I earn I must take care of my people. Till 2017 it is an important thing the government will take care of our salaries especially of the government people. There are two three types of people working in Prasar Bharati. Those taken after 2007 are not entitled for pension. We are in the process of working all that out. But once we reach 2017, Prasar Bharati has to ensure that they make their own money and programmes.