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Prasar Bharati on a Covid-19 awareness drive

The pubcaster is airing special awareness bulletin twice a day on TV and radio

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MUMBAI: Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati is making all efforts to educate and inform its viewers regarding the Covid-19 pandemic by leveraging its vast network of broadcast, radio and digital services. The pubcaster operates the largest network of TV and radio with thousands of transmitters and hundreds of stations/channels/services spread across the country.

DD News and DD India on TV, AIR on radio and Prasar Bharati News Service (PBNS) and NewsOnAir app on digital are playing lead roles in keeping the people informed.

“Our first priority has been to ensure that authentic news and information is made available to the citizens. The pubcaster has put in tremendous energy and effort towards informing and educating the citizens regarding COVID-19,” says Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati.

Both DD news and AIR news have created a special COVID-19 bulletin twice a day in English and Hindi with designated slots. These bulletins have been made available digitally through a dedicated YouTube playlist for the benefit of private media. A dedicated channel has also been designated on DD FreeDish to continuously stream COVID-19 informational videos and news. The same is also available digitally via YouTube, informs Vempati.

He says: “As a contingency plan, the national news streams on both TV and Radio have been made accessible to all the regional services as a fall-back mechanism so that no channel or station goes blank during the lockdown. Even vacant slots on DD Free Dish are continuously streaming COVID-19 information during this period.”

The pubcaster is airing informational videos at high frequency on all TV channels and equivalent jingles on all radio services. A dedicated bi-lingual national news service has also been started by AIR News which is available on all FM, MW, DTH and web.

Vempati says, “The greatest impact of the pubcaster is in regional services and local languages. Both TV and radio are innovating and using digital tools to keep the news and information going despite lockdown. Several of these regional efforts have been reported upon by media across the country. All of this is being curated and shared on social media from our main twitter handles apart from being aggregated in the NewsOnAir App.”

The pubcaster’s global digital platform, NewsOnAir App, aggregates all of TV and radio content digitally. It is available on both Android and iOS. The app has more than 200 radio streams from across India. It has several audio-on-demand content; this includes hourly news bulletins in all Indian and several foreign languages to entertainment content, including historic shows of Vividh Bharati. NewsOnAir is a one-stop App for experiencing all of public broadcasting content.

Vempati believes that the suspension in the production of original content is the time for innovation. “The entire industry has been impacted with the production coming to a halt. But we see this as a period for content innovation for new and unique formats and genres of content to emerge. Our radio teams are working on the same, leveraging remote communication tools to generate new content; as an example we had an early morning show of bird songs crowdsourced from across India. Also, in the pipeline are radio plays and book reading.”

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