MUMBAI: The times they are a changin' on All India Radio and Doordarshan. Prasar Bharati will revamp the two by investing Rs 110 billion during the 10th Five Year Plan.
Prasar Bharti CEO KS Sarma was quoted in a PTI report as saying that the revamp process would include modernisation and digitalisation of entire operations. This would catapult AIR and DD to the front rung among the channels.
AIR and DD spend Rs 19 billion every year against revenues of Rs 9 billion including a Rs 2 billion grant from the government. In order to lower expenses incurred by the national broadcaster Prasar Bharati is said to be looking into the possibility of automating the operations of some of the stations.
DD is back in the limelight this year. A large part of this can be attributed to its coverage of the Iraq conflict. The broadcaster had put its plans for live coverage in place before the conflict had broken out. DD had commissioned the war reportage to Third Eye for Rs 500,000 a day for half-hour coverage. The pay off came in the form of an 11-million viewer share. This left the other channels scrambling for crumbs with shares hovering around the two million mark. This is remarkable as in the not too distant past DD has often been accused of being behind with up to date events due to the bureaucratic interference. Like its western counterparts BBC and CNN the grandfather of indian television became tech savvy by using the portable newsgathering solution vid'linkMOBILE. The system will be used for domestic and international newsgathering.
In addition, its coverage of last months cricket World Cup put it back in the good books of the advertising community. The icing on the cake was the India-Pak match on 1 March. The match, which was in a sense a final in itself (among subcontinent viewers anyway) was a hit across cities and towns, delivering a high TRP of 15.37 in all TV Homes and 21.78 in cable & satellite homes, according to TAM data. Looking ahead, in a CAS regime, while Star and Sony are worried about losses, DD looks all set to gain in prominence.
Meanwhile, in a related development on the radio front Sarma said that the FM transmission facility currently available in the metro cities would extend to another 500 locations in the country, including Hyderabad. It is another matter as to whether the government will examine and rationalise the license fee structure. If that doesn't happen expect a carnage.
The I&B Ministry headed by Ravi Shankar Prasad has also decided to allow universities, residential schools and NGOs set up community radio stations of 50 watts capacity operational in 5 kms area.