DD News relaunch costs pegged at Rs 1.3 billion

NEW DELHI: Hectic preparations are on in Mandi House, the headquarters for India's pubcaster Doordarshan, to get the logistics in order for the re-launch of DD News that, as per an estimate, is likely to cost the Corporation Rs 1.31 billion.

Out of this, approximately Rs 100 million has been earmarked for the media budget and pre-launch publicity.

Since the news channel is being relaunched in place of DD Metro, the entertainment channel, which has little staff, the Corporation has justified requirement of manpower, both technical and editorial. "The little staff that DD metro has will be relocated to DD News. However, this would hardly meet the requirement of the news channel," an official letter from Prasar Bharati to the information and broadcasting states.

According to an official estimate, fixed costs that would entail one-time acquisition would amount to Rs 167.5 million. This would include cost of news automation Rs 100 million, post-production facilities like video suites and graphics Rs 50 million.

Operational cost for satphones has been estimated to be Rs 13.2 million and optic fibre connectivity between Doordarshan Kendra, Central Production center and Parliament would cost Rs 14 million. Additional manpower costs, which would include hiring/transferring 10 reporters, 24 producers, 28 cameramen, 24 news editors, news anchors and graphic artiste, totals up to Rs. 40.368 million. Added to this would be the manpower cost for those on contract that totals up to about Rs 60 million.

Though a major portion of the content on DD News this time would be produced in-house, Prasar Bharati, in its estimates, has kept around Rs 200 million for co-productions and acquisition of programmes off the shelf.

In an earlier estimate, Prasar Bharati had said Rs 200 million would be needed for the media budget, including pre-launch publicity. But this has been slashed down to Rs 100 million now.

Justifying the fixed and recurring costs involved in running a news channel, Prasar Bharati, in a recent letter to the I&B ministry, had said, "DD had earlier run a news channel. The failure of the earlier news channel was mainly on two counts. First, was the over dependence on commissioning on which an amount of Rs. 940 million was spent without adding to in-house capability. This time we do not want to repeat the mistake and we wish to keep commissioning out."

Prasar Bharati wanted annually an additional Rs 1.3 billion for the news channel, but the finance ministry has approved about Rs 1.15 billion.

Still, the ball is in the government's court. The government has okayed the additional funding for the November launch, but the disbursal has not come through yet.

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