February 22, 2020
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'We Have To Air The Government's Plans'

K. Subramanya Sarma, director-general, Doordarshan spells out his vision:

'We Have To Air The Government's Plans'

Why is Doordarshan perennially strapped for cash?

What we earn goes into the Consolidated Fund of India. But there is a mechanism called Non-Lapsable Fund, under which it comes back as budgetary allocation with certain conditions. Part of it goes into improving hardware, part of it is used to meet increasing non-Plan expenditure and another part goes to All India Radio.

So you have to share your budget with AIR?

Yes. All India Radio doesn't make as much money as DD. We are an organisation born out of AIR. So we have to support them.

How much exactly do you get in the end?

The rest. Last year we generated Rs 430 crore. This year my Plan size is Rs 340 crore. The balance—Rs 90 crore—goes elsewhere.

How much money have you got for software this year?

Rs 35 crore.

Is that enough?

It's not. I already have a commitment of Rs 75 crore.

When is DD3-MovieClub shifting to Insat 2C as a combined channel?

By August-end.

Has DD3's original format been overhauled?

It's being reviewed. The only major change: no more commissioned programmes. Only sponsored shows.

But will there be takers?

We are talking to big ad agencies and producers.

Why is DD lagging behind in the race to exploit sports, which is big business in India?

We may launch a satellite sports channel on Insat 2C by September-end. It could either be an independent channel or share the same transponder as DD-MovieClub.

Weren't you planning to tie up with some Asian channels to launch a sports service?

It's a proposal from STAR TV. They offered to run a channel with DD to air sports 365 days a year. But it's at a preliminary stage.

Have your basic social aims as a public service broadcaster been abandoned?

Not at all. We always keep our social responsibility in mind. We are trying to strike a balance.

DD reaches 270 million households and yet the private channels are stealing a march over you?

That's not true. We still have the commercial edge over them.

Why are DD's newscasts so bad?

They are not so bad. Consider the TRPs. Aaj Tak has 10 and The News Tonight has 6. DD's news notches up 30. Admitted that our newscasts are on the primary channel which has greater reach but even if that is conceded, our bulletins aren't doing badly. We are a public broadcaster and it is our responsibility to inform people about the Government's schemes and plans. Some people might not find it interesting, but we find it interesting.

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