Television

DW out to up viewership in Islamic countries

MUMBAI: "We want to bridge the gap between the Islamic world and the West by reaching out to the countries with a seizable Muslim population, and providing them with an European perspective," says channel Deutsche Welle's (DW) head of distribution (Asia/Australia) Angelika Newel.

Newel's words put the German news and documentary channel's objectives into perspective.

DW's came to India in 1997 when, according to Newel, "there were hardly any digital decoders in the country". The channel tied up with any willing cable network, and provided them with Grundig digital decoders from Germany.

Today, DW has tie-ups with nearly 220 cable networks here and is available in around 8.7 million households, Newel says.

However, as far as eyeballs are concerned DW has a negligible viewership. Till date, DW faces major problems due to lack of proper distribution strategy - it is available in areas like Bihar and the northeast where even English channels don't do too well. 

But, Newel says there has been a re-alignment in the company strategy now, and the channel is targeting pockets of viewers which consist of "Germans tourists, IT professionals, intelligentsia and students".

Says Newel, "We have a single signal across the globe and hence the commercial prospects of the channel are pretty dim. Nevertheless, we have some localisation of programming for areas such as Afghanistan where we telecast two hours of news in the local languages - Pushtu and Dari." These news capsules are presented by a local news anchors.

Newel states that the German government is actively involved in rebuilding Afghanistan. "We also have a special capsule in Arabic for the Middle East and north Africa."

Asked whether something similar was on the cards for India, Newel chose to remain neutral saying, "It all depended on the availability of funds."

Even though DW entered India in '97, the link between Indian and German television dates back to the mid-sixties when a lot of content from Transtel (now closely associated with DW) was shown on Doordarshan.

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