The 'vision document' that was finalised after two days of deliberations at Board Meeting of Prasar Bharati, advocates the role of a 'purely public broadcaster' for Doordarshan, not withstanding its revenue constraints. In line with this vision, unlike other private TV channels, Doordarshan will not look at its eyeballs (read viewers) as consumers but as citizens who need to be not just informed but empowered as well.
According to K.S. Sarma, CEO, Prasar Bharati, news revamp, staff augmentation, content improvement, commissioned programming and increased coverage for Doordarshan are high on their agenda. Both Doordarshan and AIR will be sprucing up their news. >From July 1, Doordarshan will have 'new look' news with better presentation. For this, Doordarshan has already recruited 22 anchors/presenters who are currently undergoing training with BBC.
Prasar Bharati has taken another major decision to generate in house content and improve the programming quality. To achieve this, Rs. 100 crore have been allocated for content creation in this year's budget. Says Sarma, "We will depend less on sponsored programming and more on in-house content creation for which we will commission programmes to Doordarshan Kendras and outside producers. We will even have programmes on royalty basis. We have also sought special packages of Rs. 40 crore each for North-East and Kashmir for both DD and AIR".
Clearly this is complete reversal of Doordarshan's earlier policy of banning commissioned programmes to outside producers (except for North East and Kashmir Channel) following reports of large scale corruption in commissioning.
Prasar Bharati has now decided to commission programmes for DD and AIR in major Indian languages, based on classical literature. Gulzar has been asked to produce a 26-episode programme based on Prem Chand's stories.
In order to generate more in-house contents to improve the quality of programming on Doordarshan and AIR, Prasar Bharati has decided to go in for staff augmentation by filling up the vacancies. Currently, there is 20 - 30 percent shortage of the sanctioned strength. Doordarshan's road map also lists the priority area of increasing its terrestrial coverage of 70 percent (by population) and 60 percent (by area).
To achieve 100 percent terrestrial coverage, over Rs. 6000 crore (more than the money spent on achieving 70 percent coverage) is required, Prasar Bharati has decided to take Satellite TV route. "As a strategy, we have started a 24-hour satellite TV channel in North-East on experimental basis. To give a boost to it, young entrepreneurs in all the North Eastern states will be given subsidy for starting cable operations. Prasar Bharati is also going in for similar experiment on KU band, since it requires much smaller dish and picture quality is much better", tells Sarma.
Prasar Bharati is also promoting DTT operations at a cost of Rs. 54 crore. It has already set up a temporary earth station at Torapur near Delhi for KU band link up. It has permitted IGNOU to immediately start beaming 'Gyan Darshan' programmes for students. Prasar Bhrati plans to start similar DTT operations in three other metros by December 2003 end.
First run on Saturday, 8th May 2002. Given it's significance, it's being re-run today.