News channel talk leaves DD Metro producers feeling shortchanged: Prem Sagar

MUMBAI: Top DD (Doordarshan) producers who say they have committed software worth millions of rupees to DD-2 (Metro) are feeling cheated by the uncertainty that presently surrounds the channel.

Recent media reports indicate that the national broadcaster is toying with the idea of converting its essentially entertainment channel DD Metro into DD News.

Speaking to, Sagar Arts marketing director cum producer Prem Sagar says: "Three months back, DD officials had sought the support of top DD producers in revamping DD-2. The idea was to convert the DD-2 into a major entertainment channel. Sagar Arts assured DD officials of its unflinching support."

In fact, just this Monday (14 July) that Sagar Arts' Jai Ganga Maiya began airing on DD Metro (Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday) in the prime time 9:30 pm slot. Yesterday (17 July), Sagar Entertainment launched Filmon ka Guldasta - a bouquet off super hit films - that will be aired every Thursday on DD-2 as a half hour show at 9:30 pm.

Speaking about Jai Ganga Maiya, Sagar says: "Each episode of the 90-episode serial has been produced at an approximate cost of Rs 500,000. Normally, producers don't invest more than Rs 100,000 on a daily serial. Sagar Arts has gone ahead with this ambitious move even when nobody has dared to put such a big project on DD-2. The cost of the entire software is estimated at Rs 5 crore (Rs 50 million)."

Sagar also adds that DD officials haven't clarified or sent any official communication on the proposed conversion of DD-2 into DD News. "But, we feel that DD officials must support us. A daily serial such as Jai Ganga Maiya will beget positive outflows and returns only after a period of nine months. We have just started and things are so unclear. We have a right to know the direction in which things are heading," Sagar adds.

Sagar Arts claims to contribute nearly Rs 3-4 million per month to Prasar Bharati in terms of telecast fees for currently telecast programmes such as Ankhen, Ramayan, Jai Ganga Maiya and Filmon ka Guldasta. "Our serial Shri Krishna had contributed Rs 139 crore (Rs 1.3 billion) to DD's coffers. Being one of the top producers (if not the largest one) on DD, we expect more clarity," Sagar points out.

While talking about Filmon ka Guldasta, Sagar says: "We are starting off with Ramanand Sagar film festival and airing blockbuster hits such as Arzoo, Ankhen, Lalkar, Geet, Bhagawat and Charas amongst others. The films will be showcased in capsules of 30-minute episodes. The cost of the entire bouquet of films is estimated to be in the region of around Rs 50 million."

Sagar also claims that he had not received any feedback for a "international Pan-Pacific" project submitted to DD nearly a year ago. "We had submitted a proposal for a costume drama that would be jointly produced by DD and Sagar Arts. This would have been the first truly global project in which DD could have participated. We had plans to shoot the show in Bali, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India using local artistes. The project was viable as we could have roped in advertisers such as Unilever and Colgate who have a presence in all these countries," says Sagar.

Meanwhile, Sagar is also getting feelers from India's top cable and satellite channels to produce shows for the mass entertainment channels.

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