If things go as per plan, India could soon be launching, or rather re-launching, what it hopes to be its very own version of a television channel like the BBC World. Keen to project Brand India abroad, the NDA government is now actively working towards reviving the fortunes of DD India — Doordarshan’s international television channel — that has existed in different avatars for close to two decades, but has so far failed to make a mark before its targeted world audience.
Engaged in serious deliberations over launching DD India worldwide, both the Prasar Bharati and the Information & Broadcasting Ministry are now banking on the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to step in and facilitate the project.
As per top Prasar Bharati sources, who didn’t wish to be named, the idea is to have an international channel of Doordarshan that offers the “last and the most credible word” on India. “We want to have something of the standard of the BBC…something to which an international viewer can tune in and know everything that is to be known about India,” a Prasar Bharati source said.
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“The BBC aligns itself with their external affairs ministry. It is very important. Similarly, we want DD India to carry on the lines that are the general directions given by the MEA. We are having those discussions,” Minister of State for Information & Broadcasting Rajyavardhan Rathore told The Indian Express.
“We are going to Europe or say Western countries…(and are figuring out as to) what are the kind of programmes that DD India should have. So it’s important that we create the base and then launch the channel, rather than be in a hurry to launch the channel. We must have enough content in it,” Rathore added, when asked about why the launch was was taking so long.
The I&B ministry has given its opinion about the nature of content that it wants on the channel. In a meeting about DD India a few days back, top I&B officials pointed out the need to have an effective filter for the kind of content, particularly news, that is broadcast on this channel.
“Showing crime stories, for instance, could paint an extremely negative image of the country. So we need to be careful about what we decide to show on DD India,” a top I&B ministry source, requesting anonymity, told The Indian Express.
Despite attempting to distribute its international channel in various parts of the world, Doordarshan has struggled in the last-mile distribution due to policies that do not permit large scale spending on carriage fee, government sources said.
At the same time, countries like Japan, Germany, China, Russia, and France invested heavily on ensuring a global reach for their respective international channels, sources added. “There is a need to have an assertive promotional campaign in Europe before launching it. We are looking at having additional publicity and support through Indian Missions and the MEA,” Prasar Bharati sources said.
Meanwhile, Prasar Bharati sources said that the test transmission of DD India has been recently rolled out on Deutsche Welle Hotbird 13-B satellite with the relay of the President’s message & Republic Day celebrations. In fact, the government was initially targeting a formal launch of the channel by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in mid-April, but couldn’t go through with it.
Prasar Bharati officials said that the public service broadcaster was also working on having tie-ups with rights owners of new films and film-based programming for DD India, something it feels is highly sought-after by the Indian diaspora.
The channel was launched in 1995 as DD World. It was renamed as DD India in 2002.