Prasad prioritises professionalism on DD, AIR

NEW DELHI: Minister of Information and Broadcasting Ravi Shankar Prasad reiterated on Monday that developmental information can also be presented in a way that is both entertaining and educative.

He also said priority would be given to encourage creativity, professionalism and competition on Doordarshan and All India Radio as compared to other private channels. Presiding over the meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to the ministry, Prasad said the effort would be to promote creativity so that "development presentation also becomes entertainment."

The other area getting his priority would be films which have growth rate of 100 per cent and great potential of employment and revenue generation (Prasad had said this in an interview to earlier after taking over the new portfolio). According to him, he would see that this sector gets the best incentive, initiative and support.

The minister said that both DD and AIR have the best available talent and are capable of producing much better programmes, but what they must do is to project themselves properly and "market aggressively." He said that the government would provide more support for content creation.

Prasad reiterated his favourite theme : both DD and AIR would project the 10th Plan in order to inform people so that they are able to participate in the implementation of this 'People's Plan'. The public service broadcaster character of Doordarshan and AIR must be maintained and should not be affected by commercial considerations, he told the parliamentary panel.

Meanwhile, addressing the valedictory ceremony of the 15th International Engineering and Technology Fair 2003, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry on Monday, Prasad hinted that the Chinese market too provides immense business opportunities for the Indian entertainment sector. Expansion of Indo Chinese trade in the entertainment sector was one of the key initiatives that would be taken up by his ministry, he added. 

During yesterday's parliamentary committee meeting, Prasad said that DD India, the international channel of Doordarshan was extremely popular among Indians abroad. It beams live national events like the Republic Day and Independence Day celebrations for its global audience. Its programming aims at offering an update on the India's social, cultural, political and economic scene. It carries 'live' news bulletins in Hindi, English, Sanskrit and Urdu, hourly news headlines, features on political events and discussions on events of national and international significance, Prasad said.

DD India has also begun telecasting regional language bulletins in Malayalam, Gujarati and Tamil to begin with. The channel now telecasts 18 hours of fresh programming. 

The meeting was also intimated that the Development Communication Division has undertaken publicity campaigns for several Central Ministries and departments. A Rural Development campaign is targeted at 600 districts and 6,00,000 villages, broadcasting programmes in 29 languages and dialects. Over 1000 programmes and 233 spots have been produced on health care, population and poverty, pulse polio, blood donation, AIDS awareness, iodine deficiency etc, he said. 

Doordarshan commands a viewership of 259 million. As compared to this, among private channels, Star Plus has a viewership of 54 million, Sony 41 million and Zee TV 36 million, according to the minister. All channels put together, DD reaches 259 million as compared to the combined viewership of 166 million of all channels, the minister informed parliamentarians who are members of the panel. 

Percentage wise, Doordarshan News captures 89.91 per cent, Aaj Tak 5.47 per cent, Zee News 2.84 per cent, Star News 1.32 per cent, BBC 0.20 per cent and CNBC 0.13 per cent of the population. The members gave several suggestions to improve Doordarshan programmes so that it is able to maintain its prime place in broadcasting in India . 

Those who attended included Balram Singh Yadav, Hannan Mollah, E.M. Sudarsna Natchiappan, C Narayana Reddy, Kartar Singh Duggal, S.S Chandran, A.J. Maroo and Saroj Dubey.

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