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Prasar Bharati signs MoU with Germany's DW to distribute DD overseas

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Prasar Bharati signs MoU with Germany's DW to distribute DD overseas

Prasar Bharati (PB), India’s Public Service Broadcaster and Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s Public Service Broadcaster, will be signing a long-awaited MoU for the distribution of DD's overseas India channel on DTH platform of Hotbird-13B satellite. The reciprocal distribution of DW-TV will be on Doordarshan Free Dish.

For the first time in history of Doordarshan's 55 years, one of its channels, (DD India), would soon be available in a Free-to-Air basic package mode, on a DTH Ku-band platform of Hotbird-13B satellite. It covers the whole of Europe, Central Asia and the Arab world of West Asia & North Africa. This means a direct access to DD channel in about 120 million households abroad.

Doordarshan is calling it historic as in the past also DD did make efforts to distribute its international channel in various parts of the world but made little progress in the last mile of the distribution process due to policies which did not permit large scale spending on carriage fees.

Prasar Bharati CEO, Jawhar Sircar said, “We want to become the true voice of India overseas by following the middle path, balanced reporting. It is a learning experience and with the new government’s blessings, we hope to make India’s presence reach a larger audience globally. Hotbird is the most preferred satellite by European countries because of its popularity and has a reach of 120 million homes in the whole of Europe, Northern Africa and the whole of Middle East.”

Sircar believes that many stereotypes need to be broken and the public broadcaster can do better. The purpose is to touch different advancements and issues of India and to get foothold on carriage.

Initially 15th August 2014 was the target date to broadcast the channel but the MoU was signed on August 5th, 2014. The broadcaster may consider 15th September or 2nd October 2014 (next dates of national importance) since that will give them sufficient time to plan appropriate content.

DD will propose different content and programmes to carry. The five broad areas /regions are Central Asia, Middle East, East Europe, West Europe, and North Africa, and hence the programmes would be tailored accordingly. 

The programmes would primarily target different cultures, keeping in mind the different languages of the regions like Turki, Persian, Arabic, French, etc. and English being reasonably the lingua franca. 

The programmes for the target audiences would be decided upon after consultation with the ministries which have experience and expertise in the various fields, and assessing the cultural and political sensitivities of the areas. 

Programmes palatable to one region may offend sensibilities elsewhere which would have to be of prime concern while producing the programmes.

The channel has different sources in order to source the content, such as archives, ready material (Monuments of  India, Dances of India), iconic movies, documentaries,  These programmes can be repackaged for international viewing.

DD is focusing on two types of audiences; first, the NRIs and second, the foreign nationals who are keen on learning about India. 

When asked about the budget, Sircar replied, “Heavy investments are made by different countries. However, DD currently has a budget of Rs 2 to 3 crore per year,    for production of programmes, which has to go up. We would also need the other ministries to pool in their resources / content for quality programmes for the viewership abroad.”

Below is a chart for allocated budget in other countries.

  USD (Million) Rs (Crore)
Japan (NHK World) 150 912
Germany (DW) 364 2213
China (CCTV) 300 1824
Russia (RussiaToday) 400 2432
France (France 24) 250 1520
Qatar (Al Jazeera) 350 2128

Sharing his thought about private players, Sircar said, “They will continue to broadcast the programmes with their own view point of India.  It all depends on their interest about presenting the picture of India.  They are promoting the issues of India from the view point and interest of audiences.” 

He also added, “Prasar Bharati as a Public Broadcaster has a very significant role to play and portray the larger face of India and we would take the middle path that gives a more balanced view of India.”


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