Producers ask DD to work on promotional budgets as well

MUMBAI: Among broadcasters in India, only Doordarshan and Kalanithi Maran's Sun Network used to follow the slot sale system, where time slots where sold to private producers for a certain amount. Marketing the show and earning moolah out of it was the producer's headache.

Then DD decided to bid adieu to the slot sale system and started marketing the shows themselves. The initiative, which started with cricket a few years back, now covers films and almost 95 per cent of evening primetime. The pubcaster will bring the afternoon primetime slots under the purview of the new system from next month onwards and the next target is all its regional channels.

The backbone of DD's new system is the Self Finance Scheme (SFS) targeted at the producers. The system operates like this: producers will be paid for their serials only after 90 days after their commencement and during this period, the shows should be maintaining the benchmark TRP of six. Otherwise, the shows will be taken off the air.

In this context, spoke to some of DD's past as well as present producers for their opinion about the new system. A majority of them thought DD should have introduced this for serials and primetime shows much earlier. However, the common concern was if DD would spend more on promotions and publicity as well.

Kishan Dang, who produces the Thursday primetime (9:30 pm) show Karan the Detective for DD feels that 90 days is too short a period for a show to establish itself and deliver the benchmark TRPs. To take care of this situation, he feels that DD should start spending more on promotions and publicity.

"DD has now adopted the business model our private broadcasters have been following. Now, thinking in the same level, there is this huge gap between the promotional budgets of both the parties. For the shows to deliver within this 90-day period, DD should promote them in a big manner. There should be enough publicity and that is very crucial for the show to stand out in the crowd. Quality and publicity are interconnected nowadays and both are crucial for the success of a show," says Dang.

Prasar Bharati deputy director general Vijaya Laxmi Chhabra feels that the worries about promotional budget don't hold water in the present scenario since DD is not competing with private broadcasters. "Advertisers are buying from us for the terrestrial reach. The argument about promotional budgets will be valid once DD starts targeting Cable & Satellite (C&S) homes. However, we are working towards it," says Chhabra.

Creative Eye's Commander Das, meanwhile, feels that such a move from DD was long due. The production house, which stopped doing shows for Doordarshan in 2003, is now in fact looking for a re-union.

"Then a lot of undercutting used to happen. Our returns depended on the marketing agencies and then the middle men. One marketing agency would be marketing 10 slots to seven different people, and if my programme went down even by 0.5 TVRs, that made a huge difference to my returns. I think the present system will work for DD and the producer," says Das.

The last programme Creative Eye had on air in DD was Ghar Sansaar. Some of the successful shows Creative Eye produced for DD include Om Namah Shivaya which ran from 1997 to 2001.

Producers are also happy because now they don't need to face hassles like bank guarantee and other bureaucratic hurdles.

Both Das and Dang feel that the 90-days delay in payments is no big deal. "Even private broadcasters, at times, tend to delay the payments for, say three to four months. This 90-day delay from DD is manageable," opines Dang.

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