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I&B ministry mulls carrying DD India on BSkyB

NEW DELHI: Indian pubcaster Prasar Bharati is examining a proposal to have Doordarshan's international channel, DD India, distributed in the United Kingdom through the Rupert Murdoch-controlled British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB) pay platform.

In a written reply to the Parliament at the Lok Sabha (Lower House) today, information and broadcasting (I&B) minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said: "Prasar Bharati has informed that DD is currently examining the possibility of distributing DD India signals in the UK using the BSkyB platform."

Prasar Bharati is an autonomous body that manages the affairs of DD and All India Radio (AIR).

According to Prasad, the distribution deal in the UK is being sought to be negotiated in order to "reach its programmes to persons of Indian origin and non-resident Indians" living in the UK.

The deal may move a step forward towards its logical conclusion when Prasar Bharati CEO K S Sarma and additional secretary (broadcasting) in the I&B ministry Vijay Singh go on an official tour to the UK next week.

According to government sources, both Sarma and Singh are expected to visit the BSkyB platform and, probably, meet up with the newly-appointed CEO of BSkyB James Murdoch.

As for today, the House was adjourned for the day (soon after the questions related to the I&B ministry were deemed to have been laid on the table) to allow the parliamentarians to keep track of the outcome of the assembly elections.

DD News launched to satisfy 'News hunger'

In a written reply to another question in the Lok Sabha today, Prasad said the entertainment channel DD Metro was converted into DD News to fulfill a hunger for news and current affairs programming.

"Prasar Bharati has informed that the decision (of the relaunch of DD News) has been taken to fulfill a growing desire for news among the viewers, particularly among those without cable connections," the minister stated.

The minister also denied that there is a proposal to restore telecast of DD Metro, particularly in the semi-urban and rural areas, on a free-to-air mode.

According to data made available to the parliamentarians, DD Metro's annual revenue collection had been dropping over the years. Starting off with 1999-2000 - when DD Metro mopped up Rs 460 million - the highpoint came in 2000-2001 when the revenues went over Rs 870 million. However, in 2003-2004, till 31 October 2003, DD Metro had managed to collect slightly over Rs 100 million.

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