Television

"Efforts are required to maintain credibility, compete with the private channels and discharge our duties as a public service broadcaster" : Achyutan - DD Bangalore Kendra news director

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DD Bangalore Kendra news director Achyuthan started his career in the late '60s as the assistant registrar of newspapers of India, Shimla. He has undertaken extensive rural communication work among tribals and fishermen of the Mangalore area during his posting as a field publicity officer. Prior to joining DD Bangalore, Achyuthan was working as the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) Bangalore regional officer. Achuthan was instrumental in Doordarshan Kendra Bangalore winning the DD award for best news channel award for the year 2003.

Achyuthan has written a small Kannada guidelines booklet for TV reporting published by the Karnataka Media Academy. He was appointed as one of the members of the Board of Examines for Exams in 2000, Bangalore University for PG, Journalism and Communication and member of the Board of Studies, Department of Journalism, Mangalore University. He also delivers lectures on journalism in Karnataka University, Bharitiya Vidya Bhavan. He has conceived a radio feature on 125 years of Karnataka journalism, which was broadcast by AIR Bangalore. He has also prepared two annual newsreel roundups for AIR, Bangalore among many other achievements.

Sitting in his office in Bangalore DD Kendra building, Achyutan talked to Indiantelevision.com's Taro W about the profession, the challenges and his experience with DD Kendra Bangalore. During the one-hour long interview, an incessant stream of stories was brought in for him to edit. Achyutan apologized profusely, saying that he had to meet his deadline for the 5 pm news - the man, set to retire in January 2005, makes a point here.

Tell us about the reporting strength of DD Bangalore Kendra's news team



There are two reporters in Bangalore and representatives in every district in Karnataka. All India Radio (AIR) correspondents are being roped in for reporting for Doordarshan also. The reporter strength will definitely improve.

Could you explain the kind of treatment being given to your primetime news bulletin at 7 pm?



DD Bangalore Kendra covers state, national as well as international happenings. The matter is meticulously calculated. About 14 to 16 stories are telecast within the 15 minute duration. I cannot overlap the timings either way since this is prime time. The bouquet is not mixed, but is presented in such a way that the viewer has a pleasant experience. The duration of each story is minimum 30 seconds to maximum 120 seconds. A balance is maintained at all times. All the angles of an issue are taken into account without sensationalising it.

The news bulletin is received very well by all segments of society. We keep the presentation short and simple and in brief sentences. We have to keep the interest of literate as well as illiterate viewers. My experience as a publicity officer in villages and talukas has helped a lot here. Our news anchors speak in a simple language almost as if a in conversational style. A lot of experiments are being done in bringing a symphony of words and visuals. We take special care about the pronunciations, diction and presentation by our news anchors. These measures help in keeping ahead of other news channels.

Today DD Bangalore Kendra telecasts seven bulletins, including one in English.

Comment on the channel's news-gathering strategy and technical advancements.



Efforts are required to maintain credibility, compete with the private channels and discharge our duties as a public service broadcaster. Our own representatives are present in every district in the state. The stringers clip the news directly form clip mail servers at Dharwad, Belgaum and Gulburga. We are experimenting getting visuals via internet. Results from Chickmagalur and Bidar have been very good and encouraging. We are encouraging our feeders to adopt this mode of sending visuals to us instantaneously.

Our video graphics caption artists have turned hi-tech savvy and this is quite an achievement. At the time of the budget presentation a minimum of 50 graphics are taken in record time. We've to create captions along with the presentation of the story itself, almost simultaneously. A copy goes to the producers and another goes to the graphics editor. Translation is a major challenge. As I said, language has to be kept as simple as possible for the common man to understand.

"We have to be sure and we have to be quick. Using any story is easy; rejection is an art we have developed"

How do you ensure authenticity of your news?



We've to be not only first, but factually correct in presenting any story. Some time back a private channel had said, "Mr Maran had reportedly died." What is the meaning of 'reportedly died'? Mr Maran (late DMK leader 'Murasoli' Maran ) was very much alive at that time. We verify a story before airing it, and sometimes have very little time to prepare for a broadcasting event.

As a public channel broadcaster we cannot take the risk of airing something without verifying it first. For example, a friend of our reporter rang up to tell us that GV Iyer had passed away in Mumbai at about 6:50 pm. On that day we'd wound up the stories for the 7 pm news by around 6:40 pm. Within 10-15 minutes we had to be on air. I asked my producer to arrange old clips of Iyer. In the meantime, I rang up his home in Bangalore and his granddaughter confirmed this fact. Yet, I called up a close friend of Iyer and re-confirmed the news and then telecast it. Within such a short time we had a complete story on air.



Another close call was the murder of Nagappa after being kidnapped by the Veerappan gang. We broke the story before any other channel. We'd been hearing rumors from our sources from 3:30 pm onwards. It was a Sunday and we had a depleted strength present in the office. Confirmation took some time; I took a call and aired the news. Our Bangalore correspondent gave a Hindi phone-in on DD National. We were questioned by our superiors about the authenticity of the news. We have to be sure and we have to be quick. Using any story is easy; rejection is an art we have developed.

Offer your comments on the significance of television news.



We are all educated and were used to reading news. When TV became an important medium, a lot of migration from print media to the electronic media took place. I wrote the guideline booklet in Kannada - a first of its kind then and it was found to be a useful guide for reporting in the audio-visual. Television is a very powerful medium. You see and hear the events happening on the small screen as if you are present. While reading or listening to someone else you have to visualise and imagine things. On TV an event is available to your senses directly.

 

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