Prasar Bharati signs 90 million deal with Insurance Regulatory Development Authority

NEW DELHI: Prasar Bharati has decided to step on the gas pedal as revenue is the buzzword in the Corporation's headquarters here, a la other broadcasting and media organisations. It has just signed a Rs 90 million deal with the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) to propagate insurance related issues on both Doordarshan and All India Radio.

When contacted by, Prasar Bharati chief executive K S Sarma confirmed the development and said, "This is part of the Corporation's initiative to tap more government and semi-government business."

DD and AIR will be airing ad spots, skits and even small features to highlight the various insurance related schemes to the masses, all sponsored by IRDA. The idea is to make people aware of the importance of insurance and the various schemes that are now being offered with the Indian government having permitted entry of foreign insurance companies in the country with some riders.

Prasar Bharati bigwigs, including Sarma and director-general of DD, SY Quraishi held a workshop for IRDA officials at Hyderabad recently to amplify Prasar Bharati's uniqueness, its reach and, more importantly, its role as a public service broadcasting organisation.

It seems that IRDA got fully convinced to spend a sizeable amount on DD and AIR, though it could have gone to any other mass-based general entertainment satellite channel.

Prasar Bharati officials also admit that the organisation has fallen behind in some way of the annual revenue target, though AIR is expected to cross the Rs 1000 million mark by the time this financial year comes to an end on 31March.

But wouldn't cricket be a money-spinner for Doordarshan, considering the national broadcaster has bagged the terrestrial rights to the live telecast of all the India matches, semi finals and the final and the remaining matches on a delayed basis? Also, the cricket matches are coming almost free for DD as the marketing agent Nimbus will share ad revenue as per a complicated structure which has DD providing the terrestrial platform for broadcasting the cricket matches.

Prasar Bharati is both worried and elated. Worried because the earnings from the cricket matches would not add to this year's kitty. Elated, as the cricket revenue will get reflected in the accounting of the year 2003-04 when both DD and AIR can set themselves slightly easier targets.

To meet the challenges posed by changes in the market scenario, Prasar Bharati has taken various steps in order to increase viewership and boost revenue during the coming years. These include improvement in the quality of content and presentation of channels, improvement in the quality of transmission, usage of more flexible rate card to meet challenges of the competitive market environment and introduction of effective system of advertising of Doordarshan's channels and programmes.

Doordarshan has also created its own marketing set up and a separate Development Communication Division to look after business of various government ministries/departments and Public Sector Undertakings.

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