South Indian producers intensify stir against DD

MUMBAI: Independent producers affiliated to Doordarshan (DD) kendras in Thiruvanthapuram, Hyderabad and Chennai are scheduled to join the stir started by the Bangalore producers - who have bought airtime and are involved in marketing programmes on Doordarshan (DD) Bangalore - ten days ago.

While the Banglore producers stopped providing content to DD since 12 September, their counterparts in Thiruvanthapuram, Hyderabad and Chennai plan to join the strike from Thursday, Friday and next Monday respectively.

The stir is being spearheaded by the South Indian DD Producers Association. According to the association's spokesperson Shivanandan, a delegation had met the Prasar Bharati CEO KS Sarma last fortnight and given a charter of demands.

Their demands were as follows:
* Prasar Bharati should take a decision to sort out the issue of service tax. At present, Prasar Bharati is insisting that the producers should pay the same as most of the major clients have declined to pay the tax.

* Prasar Bharati's marketing division should stop selling slots on programmes that have already been allocated to the private independent producers. There have been cases wherein the Prasar Bharati marketing team has directly given special rates to major clients like Life Insurance Corporation of India for programmes that have been marketed by private producers.

* Prasar Bharati and DD officials must smoothen the process of extensions for dailies and weeklies. The present system of three-month or six-month extensions, should be replaced by one-year extensions.

* DD should allow all independent producers to 'bank the seconds' of programmes that aren't doing too well on those programmes that are doing well.

* Lastly, there should be clarity on DD-Metro turning into DD News.

According to Shivanandan, Sarma has not concede to any of the five demands. Speaking to, Shivanandan said, "We have made up our mind to continue the stir indefinitely - till our demands are fulfilled. We are also trying to meet the central union minister of urban development Anant Kumar on Wednesday and the Karnataka CM SM Krishna on Thursday to discuss our demands."

Shivanandan was resolute that unless the government complies, they won't air their shows on DD and not allow any other producer to do so.

However, DD Bangalore director Venkatesh Sherval, said, "The present status is that the producers have discontinued their programmes. But we have not yet taken a decision regarding their demands."

In Mumbai, Universal Communications' MD Padmakar Nandekar confirmed that he was part of the delegation that met Sarma and other officials earlier this month.

"We feel that the issue should be sorted out amicably as it would be in the best interests of the national broadcaster and the independent producers who always supported DD," Nandekar added, while claiming that he is heading to Tiruvanandapuram to address a meeting of the South Indian producers.

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