DD's Quraishi raises ratings rigging bogey

NEW DELHI: Doordarshan today took a pot shot at the TV rating points saying "manipulations" are common, even while maintaining that efforts should still be on to improve programming on DD channels.

"Though in all television homes DD has 35 out of Top 50 programmes (according to TAM data), in cable and satellite homes we are nowhere there. There are several reasons for this and one of them is that manipulations do take place," SY Quraishi, director-general of India's pubcaster Doordarshan, today said, while interacting with journalists.

He, however, added that he has voiced this concern in several fora, including during a meeting of the Indian Broadcasters' Foundation recently. The concerns include that the system is "not foolproof " and the sample size is "too small."

"We are in the process of strengthening our own audience research division which will act as a supplementary to TAM data," the DG said.

For the record, TAM data, in all TV homes DD has 35 programmes in the Top 50 list, while Star Plus has just 15 programmes. Also, while Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki on Star Plus (the top programme in C&S homes) has a viewership of 7.040 million, DD's top programme Aap Beeeti in all TV homes has a whopping viewership of 13,439,000. Similarly, while the last of the Top 5 programmes in C&S homes --- Kahin Kissii Roz --- has a viewership of 4,131,000, it's DD counterpart --- Aaryaman --- in all TV homes commands a viewership of 7,688,000. The figures pertain to the week ended 16 November.

"How can an advertiser overlook these facts? DD delivers viewership that is far more than anybody else," Quraishi said.

Taking a swipe at the country's "subse tez (news) channel" which is also now the country's best news channel --- courtesy's Bajaj Boxer Indian Telly Award --- Quraishi said that news on DD is looked upon as more dependable and sans any sensationalism.

"Between 8-9 pm DD captures more than 93 per cent of people who are watching news in all TV homes, while the nearest rival Aaj Tak has below 5 per cent viewership and still it is called the country's best news channel," Quraishi said.

But even Quraishi had a limit to the extent that he could go, his honest intentions about DD notwithstanding.

Asked whether revenue generating initiatives undertaken or proposed to be undertaken by DD have borne any fruits, Quraishi admitted, "Though we have a plan to make every DD channel accountable (read make them separate profit centres), there is a deliberate decision to subjugate our commercial decisions because DD is a public service broadcaster."

Asked by whether any part of the huge viewership that DD news is flaunting has got converted into some additional revenue, Quraishi aid that except developmental and social message advertisements, DD does not accept advertisements for news.

Another initiative includes renting or hiring out resources at DD's disposal which are not being utilised fully. "We have an open mind on resource sharing with private satellite channels or anybody else," Quraishi said, adding, "For example, many of DD's 54 studios are not always utilised. In case people are interested, we can hire out the facilities on rent."

Asked whether Kaun Banega Crorepati in its new avatar is likely to make an appearance on DD's terrestrial network, apart from being telecast on Star Plus, as part of finding synergies between DD and private satellite channels, Quraishi said that "some talks had been held at a board meeting (of Prasar Bharati), but no decision has been taken as of yet."

He also evaded a question on whether DD is looking at having a game show on its channel and whether Siddharth Basu, who produced KBC for Star Plus and also used to do Quiz Time on DD many years ago, has been commissioned to devise a game show exclusively for DD.

Quraishi also said that DD is looking at buying programmes and serials off the shelf but they have to be new and not re-runs of other channels. "We are interested in buying serials, but they have to be new. We don't want re-runs or old serials unless they are very good," he added, indicating that some defaulting companies which owe DD money have offered programmes in lieu of the outstanding dues. "We are examining the issue," he said.

" We do not, as a policy, accept ads before, during or after news as we feels it may tell on our credibility and this policy is to continue," the DG said.

Soon DD will also go public with its digital terrestrial transmission service in some of the metros wherein it is offering five DD channels at the moment which can be received through a set-top box costing about Rs. 5,000.

"The trials of DTT have been successful and we plan to make the service public soon. At a later date we are also exploring the possibility of introducing other value-added services and also Internet through television," Quraishi said.

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