Doordarshan enters into a new era of community broadcasting today (October 29) with the commencement of broadcasts of locally relevant programmes, popularly known as 'narrow casting'. The programmes will be originated and telecast from 12 selected Low Power Transmitters (LPT's) spread across the country. The narrow casting service at Palakkad in Kerala and Amalapuram in Andhra Pradesh is being dedicated to the public today.
The service in Bellary (Karnataka) and Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu) will commence from October 31 followed by Hissar (Haryana) and Nainital (Uttaranchal) from November 1, which happens to be Haryana Day. Ferozepur and Patiala in Punjab, Sagar in MP, Akola in Maharashtra, Hazaribag in Jharkhand and Bilaspur in Chhattisgarh are the other centres which will be covered in the first of phase of narrow casting experiment.
With narrow casting, Doordarshan will come a long way from 1959 when it began its operations on a modest scale with half an hour programming from Delhi. Currently, Doordarshan has a 3-tier programme service comprising National Regional and Local Service, through a network of 1244 transmitters, 56 studio centres and 22 satellite channels. The National Service covers events and issues of interest to the entire nation and DD National, the flagship channel operates through a network of 1137 transmitters covering 76.8 percent area and 89.3 percent population of the country.
The regional programmes are beamed on DD National at specific times and also on 11 Regional Language Satellite Channels, catering to the interest of a particular state in the language of the region. The Local Service broadcasts programmes that are area specific in local languages and dialects.
Narrow casting is an experiment in taking the broadcasting nearer to the grass root level for which large network of LPTs each covering a radius of 15 km will come handy. Through narrow casting, viewers in the primary service area would be shown programmes, which they can identify with local ethos. The contents of these programmes will specially appeal to the local population and will be a relevant to their needs.
These programmes of 30 minutes duration on agriculture, rural development, education, health etc. will be produced by Doordarshan Kendras in collaboration with agricultural universities and state departments of agriculture. Says S.Y. Quraishi, director general Doordarshan, "Initially, we wanted agricultural universities and state agricultural departments to produce these programmes with technical support from Doordarshan. But it was not possible as universities faced fund crunch and did not have trained personnels to take up the programme production."
The narrow casting experiment assumes significance because Doordarshan is the single most important source of information, education and entertainment to nearly 40 million TV homes which are without cable connection. Even in the C & S homes, Doordarshan continues to be the reliable source of information and public messages (which are often shunned by the market driven private channels) to accelerate socio-economic change.