With Prasar Bharti Corporation clearing new norms on commissioned programme in its board meeting yesterday, Doordarshan is all set to open the much-awaited commissioned programming to outside producers.
The commissioned programming except on North-East and Kashmir was banned on Doordarshan particularly after the closure of DD News channel in January last following large scale corruption in awarding programmes to favourite producers. Even the parliamentary panel had indicted Doordarshan for wasting crores on sub-standard commissioned programme.
Doordarshan has been under tremendous pressure to reopen commissioned programming as the sponsors were not coming forward for public interest programme with Doordarshan is bound to telecast under the mandate given to it as a public broadcaster.
What further necessitated the commissioned programming was a massive budget allocation of Rs 80 crore (against Rs 16 crore last year) to Dooardarshan for content creation.
The new guidelines for commissioned programming finalised by the Prasar Bharti board are intended to bring in more transparency and fair evaluation by co-opting outside experts in the Evaluation Committee. As per the new norms Evaluation Committee will have three outside experts including one women from the field of broadcasting, journalism, performing arts, literature etc. Prasar Bharti Board has also decided to set up a combined programme advisory committee for Doordarshan and AIR at major capital states to create synergy and to bring more transparency in the operation of Doordarshan and AIR.
As part of its budget for content creation, Doordarshan has allocated Rs 10 crores each for central commissioning and regional kendras, Rs 21 crores for royalty programmes, Rs 5 crore for co-production, Rs 11 cores for off the self acquisition and Rs 13 crores for in-house programming. Besides there is Rs 28 crores budget allocations for programme for North-East and Rs 20 crores for programmes on Kashmir. Doordarshan directorate has also called meeting of regional directors and channel heads to access their individual content requirement.
The commissioned programming will be opened for DD1, DD International, DD Bharti and Regional Kendras for fiction and non-fiction programmes. As per the new norms no unsolicited proposal will be entertained. Instead Doordarshan soon will be putting up ads on its networks and in print media for inviting proposals from outside producers. The processing fee for proposals under central commissioning has been fixed as Rs 25,000/- while for proposals under regional kendras the fee is Rs 15,000/-.
The entire evaluation process has been made more broad based and transparent to curb corruption. For the first time Doordarshan will be putting the names of all those independent producers who will be called for interview on Doordarshan web site. The names of those producers whose proposals are approved will also be put up on the web site. It may be mentioned that under its elaborate evaluation process Doordarshan bosses were recently able to uncover 46 bogus producers who had committed their proposals for Kashir channel and there cases were forwarded to CBI.
Along with the commissioned programme guidelines, Prasar Bharti Board has also made some changes in the guidelines for sponsored programmes to bring in more transparency and collective decision making. All sponsored programmes will be first assessed by the evaluation committee which in turn will put up its observations before the selection committee that has been upgraded with the inclusion of additional DG ranked officials as its members.
Another significant issue that came up for discussions before Prasar Bharti Board related to the marketing of ICC Mini World Cup in September which DD will telecasting live. WSG Nimbus will be marketing this mega cricketing event on revenue sharing basis with Doordarshan. While for Mini World Cup 2002 and World Cup 2003, the 80:20 (in favour of WSG Nimbus) revenue sharing arrangement has been finalised, for the World Cup 2007, no decision on revenue sharing pattern has been taken so far. All commercial revenue collected from the Mini World Cup will go the escrow account.
Prasar Bharti Board has also taken a decision to strengthen the existing news gathering network of Doordarshan and AIR by raising the strength of its stringers from 256 to over 570 covering all the districts. These stringers will double up as AIR and Doordarshan reporters. In a related development Prasar Bharti has transferred a number of news editors and assistant news editors to North-East to fill up the post which have been lying vacant there for long time. In a separate rationalization exercise Prasar Bharti Board has decided to close down five regional state network of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Bihar brining down the number of channels from 22 to 17.