Doordarshan's commercial revenue continues to shrink

The public broadcaster generated only Rs 157.53 crores in revenue in 2020-21.

NEW DELHI: India’s public broadcaster continues its struggle to generate profits. The quantum of commercial revenue including advertisement revenue earned by the All India Radio and Doordarshan has plummeted over 40 per cent over the last three years.

According to the latest data tabled in Parliament, Doordarshan’s quantum of commercial revenue stood at Rs 607 crores in 2017-18, which came down to Rs 553.5 crores in 2018-19 and further decreased to Rs 348 crores in 2019-20. There was a nearly 42.6 per cent decline in the last three years.

The slump continued in 2020-21 when the industry also faced the onslaught of the ongoing Covid2019 pandemic. The total revenue in 2020-21 is Rs 157.3 crores indicating a significant slowdown compared to 2017. The figures were tabled in the Parliament by union minister of information and broadcasting Prakash Javadekar in response to a query.

The government-owned channel has been struggling amid the rising number of private channels and OTT platforms which are gaining viewers’ interest with diverse content. Last year, it had managed to strike a chord with the audience with its decision to re-telecast the B R Chopra-directed Mahabharat which set the record for the highest viewership for any TV show in recent times.

The trend was similar for All India Radio, which clocked a total commercial revenue of Rs 465.4 crores in 2017-18. It decreased to Rs 460.9 crores in 2018-19 and further dropped to Rs 305.23 crores in 2019-20. In the current pandemic year, 2020-21, it has recorded a commercial revenue of Rs 108.7 crores so far.

The public broadcaster was earlier preferred by brands mostly to reach out to the rural markets. With the changing dynamics, it is now also trying to leverage the reach created by DD Free Dish to improve revenue generation through advertisements.

Responding to another query on whether the government intends to ban advertisements on gutkha and cigarettes, union minister Prakash Javadekar informed the Parliament that advertisement for both the products are not being carried on the public broadcaster as per its laid-down commercial code and no revenue has been earned from it.

He said that ads telecast on TV channels are regulated in accordance with the Advertising Code prescribed under the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. It provides that no advertisement shall be permitted which promotes directly or indirectly production, sale or consumption of cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants. However, a product that uses a brand name or logo, which is also used for cigarettes, tobacco products, wine, alcohol, liquor or other intoxicants, may be advertised on cable service subject to specified conditions.

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