broadcaster Prasar Bharati has big plans for its television channel
Doordarshan which will air the Commonwealth Games (CWG) next month in
high-definition (HD). DD hopes to increase its revenues by almost 50% this
year and has come out with a special DD mascot, also called DD, to promote
the broadcast of the Games.
which looks like a mechanical insectoid, incorporates the channel's logo and
abbreviated name, and has been designed by ad agency Ogilvy and Mather.
interview with FE's Rahul
Sharma, Doordarshan (DD) director-general Aruna
Sharma talked about
Doordarshan's competition with private channels and the ad revenues it
expects to garner with the telecast of CWG. Edited excerpts.
Is Doordarshan ready
for the Commonwealth Games?
DD is fully
geared for CWG. The HD signal has already been put into testing. The
broadcast compounds are coming up in 18 places and we are almost finishing
that. For six places, the production and technical equipment has been
shifted and for others, it is in the process of being shifted. We will start
the final rehearsal from the fourth week of September, when integrated
testing will start off.
Also, I feel
this is the time when the private and public sector should come forward to
prove that not just cricket, but other sports are also important. We have
now various cricket channels, it is time we stand by other sports. And India
is winning in these disciplines.
To what extent has the
controversies surrounding the CWG impacted the advertiser interest? How much
ad revenue do you expect to garner during the Games?
In so far as
advertiser interest is concerned, they are responding now. We did have a bit
of a problem in between, of people holding back when there was quite a lot
of negative news coming in. That did, sort of, put people on the hold. But
things have started moving again.
confident of getting Rs200-300 crore in ad revenues. Plus, we are selling
the ad spots in packages which ensures high visibility for the advertiser.
The finals will be telecast on DD National, the complete highlights will be
on DD News and regional channels.
will be showing the events round the clock. And DD Urdu and Bharati will be
also be showing sports events. So when a sponsor comes on board, his brand
will be visible be on all four channels, plus regional channels and DD News.
Also, we will be having a separate channel, DD HD, which will be showing the
games in HD format.
So what happens to this
HD channel after the Games are over?
already developing content in HD format for DD India. This will be the first
feeder for DD HD. Also, we are working on an arrangement with Discovery
channel. They have a lot of content in HD. Some of their content coming out
of India or focused on India could be used. In addition, we will have the
and Mumbai studios HD-ready withing a year.
What are your plans for
the network then? How much revenue do you expect this year?
Lats year we
had a record revenue of Rs1000.38 crore. This year we definitely want to
reach as close to the operating expenses, which will be around 1300 crore.
This year, apart from DD National, we will focus on DD Urdu, Kashir and
India. DD Urdu will be coming up with a new form and shape by the end of
this calendar year. DD Kashir is all ready to be repackaged and relaunched.
For DD India, we have improved it programme by programme. It is an
international channel of DD and is the voice of
Of the 8-hour fresh run, two hours is devoted to news and current affairs.
For the rest, it is about programmes showing the best of Indian art, culture
and entertainment. We have also done tie-ups in large number of countries,
so that DD India is visible there. We are now focusing more and more on
consolidating and going to the products which have not been coming to us. We
will also be upgrading DD network in the north-east. Also, we plan to
complete the digitisation process of our terrestrial network by 2017. That
will enable us to add five or six more DD channels.
Has DD lost to the
No. If you
look at TAM ratings, DD has climbed up by 4 percentage points even in the
category of cable and satellite (C&S) homes. If you put terrestrial and C&S
together, 5 programmes of DD figure in the top 20. This, when we only do 5-6
hours of entertainment programming on DD National. DD News even now has the
maximum viewership. Plus, one of the reasons for people not watching DD is
the mischief of cable operators who either don't put DD in prime band or
don't air it at all. If we are not coming out with flashy advertising, it
does not mean we are not performing. Last year, we were able to capture 10%
of the total TV ad market. Against the total ad market of Rs 8,900 crore we
got around Rs 890 crore. We expect this to rise by 10-15% this year.