New Delhi: Prasar Bharti is planning for complete revamp of the public broadcaster DD National channel with improved quality of programming to attract more viewers.
The decision in this regard was taken at Prasar Bharti’s 16th May board meeting to auction prime-time slots between 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm on the national channel of Doordarshan.
Doordarshan will now outsource some general entertainment programmes to external production houses through an auction.
“We decided to introduce fresh programming to get eyeballs back. Prasar Bharati needs to improve viewership to get up there among the general entertainment channels and to compete with private channels,” Prasar Bharati chairperson A. Surya Prakash said in an interview. “This auction is an experiment for DD National and, if successful, Prasar Bharati will auction slots for other channels of Doordarshan network as well.”
In the latest rural viewership data released by television viewership measuring agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) for the week ended 13the May, Doordarshan failed to make it to the 10 most-watched Hindi general entertainment channels or the five most-watched programmes.
Prakash said the way the programmes are financed at Doordarshan is a factor affecting the quality of programmes.
Doordarshan has a policy of self-financed commissions, wherein it buys programmes from producers and recovers the cost from advertising revenues.
“We feel that we are not getting the quality we want,” Prakash said. “This is one of the major reasons that we have invited big players in television production to bid for these slots. We plan to roll out the new programming on 1st October.”
The broadcaster, in a slot-sale policy uploaded on its website, has laid out a set of conditions to be followed by prospective bidders—for instance, a production house will only be eligible to bid if it has logged revenue of at least Rs.5 crore per annum in each of the past three financial years and has produced at least 300 hours of Hindi general entertainment programming in the past two calendar years.
“We are expecting a substantial growth in terms of quality of content on the channel so that Doordarshan can measure up to the level of private players in the country,” Prakash said.
On the commercial viability of Prasar Bharati, Prakash said that out of a total budget of Rs.4,200 crore for 2015-16, aboutRs.2,200 crore came as budgetary support from the government and the rest was internal revenue. The government has allocated Rs.4,083.63 crore to Prasar Bharati for 2016-17.
“Prasar Bharati is on its way to becoming financially independent and stand on its own feet,” said Prakash.