Public broadcaster Doordarshan is planning to acquire programmes in a different way. After sponsored and commissioned programmes, DD is set to introduce a third category: off-the-shelf buying. This third form of buying is aimed at checking the quality of programmes that the broadcaster acquires.
According to DD Director-General S Y Quraishi, two committees (evaluation and costing) are being put in place to enable off-the-shelf buying of programmes. While the costing committee will consist of in-house people, evaluation of programmes will be done by a committee of 50 to 60 experts in the field, said Mr Quraishi.
S Y Quraishi claimed that outsiders in the evaluation committee would keep the selection process unbiased. Under off-the-shelf buying, which he also refers to as departmental store buying, anybody with a ready-made programme or serial can approach DD. After which, the two committees will take over.
Unlike commissioned programmes, off-the-shelf buying would eliminate the risk of programmes declining in quality over a period of time. Programme producers won’t be able to cut corners mid-way through a series. The programmes, which will be acquired through the new route, could be for any channel.
As for pricing, buying ready-made programmes is expected to be cost-effective for DD. Reason: One can negotiate and haggle better when the complete product is before you. Plus, copyright of such programmes will belong to DD, as opposed to sponsored programmes. Even in the case of commissioned programmes, copyright is the channel’s, but the quality could be suspect.
Basically seen as a substitute for commissioned programmes, off-the-shelf buying is expected to cleanse the DD system and attract better programmes as well. Interestingly, one of the private broadcasters in the country opted for off-the-shelf buying and shot to fame, sometime back.
Although the ban on commissioning of programmes was lifted recently in DD, it has been permitted only for a few channels. Off-the-shelf buying, on the other hand, will be allowed for all DD channels.
In the backdrop of hundreds of unused and poor-quality programmes worth a few crores lying around in the DD offices, off-the-shelf may just emerge as a healthy substitute. Even as private channels are able to closely supervise commissioned programmes (to the extent of bringing back dead characters to life in some cases due to public demand), DD has failed to do it.