DD’s competitive game plan

MUMBAI: “It is my dream to make Doordarshan a success story,” said Information & Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar at the recently concluded GoaFest.

Indeed, what was once the only television channel and earned nearly 100 per cent revenue because of its monopoly has over the years become an ‘also-ran’, thanks to the satellite and cable TV explosion.

DD recently undertook several new initiatives in a bid to reclaim its place under the sun. Just last month, the government-owned channel launched a dedicated slot for afternoon shows called ‘DD Dopahar… Aapke Ghar’ where between 12pm and 3pm, serials produced and directed by biggies from the television and film fraternity including Harry Baweja, Karan Razdan, Paintal, Sudhir Pandey and Maninee Dey are aired.

Earlier this month, DD revamped its prime time evening viewing with five new shows namely Nadiyaan Gaati Hain, Bharat Ki Shaan: Let’s Dance, Earth Matters, Gaon Connection and Yatra. What’s more, in the coming months, the channel plans to re-brand itself with a view to better connect with its audiences. “Yes, we will re-brand DD National soon. It is on the cards and we are expecting it to happen by the end of the year,” confirmed Doordarshan directorate general CK Jain.

The channel which holds the seventh position after general entertainment channel Sab, clocked 131 million GVTs in the week 23 of TAM TV ratings.

According to Jain, it’s the right time for such a move, considering advertisers’ response has also been good. “For DD National, the advertisers’ response has been reasonably good, considering the fact that we still have the largest reach across the country. Our strength was towards terrestrial earlier. Our reach has been shrinking over a period of time. We are aware of that and we are trying our best to ensure that the viewership increases in C&S markets also. We are trying to enhance our viewership in these markets by upgrading the content,” he said. “We are trying to upgrade our prime time now with fresh content, but of course, we can’t compare ourselves with the big players.”

An industry source opined that unlike GECs like Star Plus and Zee which are able to pump in huge monies on content, DD cannot afford to do so. “This is slightly a disadvantage of being a government body, where you have to follow certain procedures to acquire content,” the source said, stressing that DD would not spend more than Rs 300 to Rs 400 crore on new content.

“The major part of expenditure goes towards infrastructure which takes away more than half their budget. If you really talk of today, terrestrial is very costly. This worries the management as they are unable to invest more money on content which is required. The management is trying to find solutions for it.”

Meanwhile, a media planner expressed the view that while re-branding would definitely help DD get more viewers on-board, it would not help the channel compete with the big players. “If they are re-branding, the channel must have good reasons to do so. It will do well for the channel, but if they wish to compete with big players in the market like Star or Zee, they should be willing to spend some money on the content to reach that level,” he concluded.

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