DOORDARSHAN – Its Relevance in today’s Satellite TV Age Can you imagine a world without television?
No serials, news channels or cricket matches. Will it not be a boring world? Today television has become an integral part of our lives. Your brother might get angry if disturbed while he is watching his favourite television programme. However, television is a recent invention. Very few homes had television sets some fifty years ago. Also, till the 1990s Doordarshan was the only channel available to a vast majority of Indians. EVOLUTION OF TELEVISION: Isn’t it wonderful that a newsreader who is hundreds of kilometers away in a news studio can be seen and heard by just switching on your television set? However, television is a recent invention.Ask your grandfather whether he had watched television in his childhood. Most probably he would have had a radio set at home but not a television. Radio, print and cinema were already there before the arrival of television. The idea of television existed long before the actual invention of television. Several inventors were working on the creation of a technology which could transmit sound as well as visuals. Though many pioneers have contributed to make it possible, John Baird is generally regarded as the father of television. British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) of Britain began the first television service in 1936. If you have a satellite or cable connection, you will be able to watch BBC, the world’s oldest television broadcaster. By 1939, television broadcasts began in the United States also. These two countries were clearly ahead in the race. Other countries began television broadcasting on a wide scale only by the 1950s. Though the second World War slowed down the rapid development of the new medium, the post war years made up for it. We have seen how television came into existence. However, early television viewing was not like what we see on a television set today. It was quite primitive. The limitations of the early camera forced the actors and anchors to work with impossibly hot lights. Imagine trying to read news with full make up under a blazing light.
television centers were opened in other parts of the country also. each of one hour duration.The early television broadcasts were all black and white. There were only two one-hour programmes a week. this phase is often called it “ The golden age of Televion” TELEVISION IN INDIA : Did you know that television broadcasts started in India under All India Radio (AIR)? Television began in India on 15th September 1959 as an experiment. It was conducted between August 1975 and July 1976. that was the case in the early years of television. the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE). All India Radio handled the initial broadcasts. From being “radio with pictures” it acquired a unique style of its own. Under this programme. The television set became one of the important mediums of entertainment with the advent of several popular shows. folk and rural art forms. Doordarshan. health and family planning were the other important topics dealt with in these programmes.
. By the 1970s. Several community television sets were distributed as a part of one of the important landmarks in the history of Indian television. Imagine a television set working for only two hours a week. Can you think of such a situation today? But. the Indian government used the American satellite ATS-6 to broadcast educational programmes to Indian villages. Several community television sets were set up in Delhi’s rural areas and schools around Delhi for the dissemination of these programmes. The programmes were mainly produced by Doordarshan which was then a part of AIR. drama. In 1976. The early programmes on these experimental broadcasts were generally educational programmes for school children and farmers. Six states were selected for this experiment and television sets were distributed in these states. Entertainment was also included in these telecasts in the form of dance. The first successful programme in colour was transmitted by Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in USA in 1953. Other than agricultural information. in the morning and evening. The telecasts happened twice a day. Television gradually matured as a medium during the next two decades. As a result of this. music. which was All India Radio’s television arm until then became a separate department.
Prasar Bharati. But today we have many channels other than Doordarshan. Let us see how satellites help in bringing your favourite television channels to your homes. for the first time. In addition to the domestic transmission. Doordarshan provided national coverage for the first time through the satellite INSAT 1A. The Prasar Bharati Corporation was established to serve as the public service broadcaster of the country which would achieve its objectives through AIR and DD. Have you seen any of these serials ? In 1997. Also. government sanctioned a huge expansion of Doordarshan. the transmission was in colour. This was a step towards greater autonomy for Doordarshan and AIR. Buniyaad and Nukkad were immensely popular. However. After 1982. ADVENT OF PRIVATE CHANNEL So you have seen how Doordarshan has evolved over the years. Many of the programmes of Doordarshan like Hum Log. Several new transmitters were set up throughout the country. By 1983. a statutory autonomous body was established. Thus towards the end of 80s around 75 per cent of the population could be covered by the transmitters.A major milestone in the history of Indian television was the coverage of the Ninth Asian Games in 1982. Doordarshan along with AIR was converted into government corporations under Prasar Bharati.
.there was a huge increase in the live coverage of sports by Doordarshan. Generally satellites are used for communication or research purposes. Man made satellites are objects which are launched to orbit the earth or any other celestial body. Doordarshan was also providing content for the broadcasters of many other countries. Prasar Bharati has not succeeded in shielding Doordarshan from Government control. You may have heard the term “satellite channels”.
NDTV. But. Zee etc are a few of the many television channels available to us today.
In the earlier days. communication satellites are instrumental in bringing the serial to your home. Have you ever owned a television set with an antenna which had to be positioned exactly to catch the signal? A heavy rain or rough weather can disrupt your television viewing in such a case. The agreement between STAR and Zee did not last long. Ask your mother if she had such a wide choice of channels in her childhood. It became the first privately owned Hindi satellite channel of India. But the Indian television audience was waiting for a shift from the monopoly of Doordarshan and soon a number of private channels emerged.What is the relationship between a satellite and a serial that you see in the cable network? They might seem completely unrelated. Sun TV
. Satellite dishes were used to catch the CNN signals and cable operators took to satellite broadcasting immediately. This is because these private channels came into the Indian Television scene quite recently. Hong Kong based STAR (Satellite Television Asian Region) entered into an agreement with an Indian company and Zee TV was born. The Supreme Court ruling of 1995 which stated that the airwaves are not the monopoly of the Indian government boosted their growth. Several regional channels also came into being during this period. Cable News Network (CNN) propelled the arrival of satellite television in India. How many channels can you watch on your television set? Star TV. Doordarshan had a monopoly as it was the only channel available to the Indian television audience. The coverage of the Gulf War by the American news channel. This changed in the 1990s with the arrival of private channels. The introduction of communication satellites has improved the situation greatly. Aaj Tak. The answer will be ‘no’.
Hindi film songs based programs like Chitrahaar. With different categories of channels like 24 hour news channels.
SATELLITE TV V/S DOORDARSHAN The SWOT analyses involves study of strengths. SWOT factors that are evidently available to the Doordarshan are as follows: S – Strength More than 1000 transmitters. religious channels. Compared to these programmes the C & S Network does not have any original and creative programme for the Indian audience but are a remake of foreign programmes which are popular abroad. Buniyaad (1986–87) and comedy shows like Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi (1984). Covering 90% of population across 70 million homes against only 30 million home by C & S. and Nukkad along with mythological dramas such as Ramayan (1987–88) and Mahabharat (1989–90). W – Weakness
. Ek Se Badkar Ek and Superhit Muquabla. Shaktimaan. a host of international channels like CNN. weaknesses. BBC and Discovery are also available to the Indian television audience. As against this the biggest Cable and Satellite Network ( C & S) Star network which has the largest reach in the private C & S has only 350 transmitters. The 80s were noted for Hum Log (1984). Buniyaad. Asianet (Malayalam) and Eenadu TV were a few of them. there is something for everyone to watch. India's First Superhero. opportunities and threats of an organisation. glued millions to Doordarshan as did shows such as Bharat Ek Khoj. Hum Log. Rangoli. More than 20.(Tamil). cartoon channels and movie channels. Today almost all major Indian languages have television channels in them.000 employees. Apart from the regional channels. The Sword of Tipu Sultan and The Great Maratha.
The government will also lose out as it will not be able to take advantage of rising potential of the broadcasting industry particularly for educational and social awareness generation programmes. Due to quality of program the reach of C & S network is continuously expanding. It is suggested that the DD should adopt a middle path. At the same time quality and viewership of programmes should be improved. Bureaucracy may reduce new strategic initiatives or make the organisation less transparent. It should have a mix of both the options. the capacities are under utilized these may be leased out to the private operations. Allotment of time. Regional focused channels. O – Opportunities Infrastructure can be leased out to cable and satellite channel.
Complete privatisation can fetch a good sum and may solve many of the managerial and operational problems. As the C & S network need the trained staff.
. Digital terrestrial transmission.Rigid pricing strategy. some employees of DD may switchover and take new jobs. Doordarshan is considered down market and hence many people do not like to watch it even though some of the programme have good content. Best of the market-technology is being used by the private channels. It is suggested that the DD should adopt a middle path. However. It should have a mix of both the options. Low credibility with certain sections of society. T – Threats Desertion of advertisers and producers may result in loss of revenues. complete public monopoly is not advisable because that denies the government to fully exploit the avenue for social and public use. It should economise on its operational aspects and ensure more productivity in term of revenue generation and optimisation of use of its infrastructure. Wherever. slots to other broadcasters.
phrases and whole sentences in English. talk shows and situation comedies are also gaining in popularity. Chitrahaar. STAR Plus has a very small share of the audience in India and even this is threatened by the launch of new channels. television programming continues to be dominated by the Indian film industry. including news shows. However.
Most of its programs are syndicated U. Almost all Indian films are musicals and this allows for the development of inexpensive derivative programs. Only StarTV's STAR Plus channel offers broad-based English language entertainment programs. International satellite programming has opened up competition in news and public affairs programming with BBC and CNN International challenging Doordarshan's long standing monopoly. Most of the other foreign broadcasters. for example. One of Doordarshan's most popular programs. is a compilation of old film songs and all the private channels. A peculiar development in television programming in India has been the use of hybrid English-Hindi program formats.
This takes advantage of the of the audience for television (especially the audience for satellite television) which is largely composed of middle class Indians who have some knowledge of English along with Hindi and colloquially speak a language that is primarily Hindi intermixed with words. Other genres like soap operas. for example soap operas like The Bold and the Beautiful and Santa Barbara and talk shows like Donahue and Oprah. hence the continuing reliance on film based programming.Despite the rapid growth of television channels from 1991 to 1996. including ZeeTV and music video channels like MTV Asia and Channel V. that use both languages within a single telecast. Hindi films are the staple of most national channels and regional channels rely heavily on a mix of Hindi and regional language films to attract audiences. which offer programs in Hindi and English on the same channel and even have programs. but the production of these programs has been unable to keep up with demand. popularly called "Hinglish" formats.
. show some variation of Chitrahaar. shows. ESPN and the Discovery Channel.S. Commercial competition has transformed Doordarshan as well and it is scrambling to cope with the changed competitive environment. A number of game shows are also based on movie themes. are focusing on special interest programming.
Parliament lays down the guidelines that Doordarshan is expected to adhere to in its programming and Doordarshan's budget is debated and approved by Parliament. the government ordered Doordarshan to raise its own revenues for future expansion. maintain and work" wireless services. Successive governments and ruling political parties have used Doordarshan to further their political agendas. Within the ambit of these provision it was assumed that media autonomy or liberalization in any form was the prerogative of the government to grant. This new commercial mandate has gradually begun to change Doordarshan's perception of who are its primary constituents--from politicians to advertisers. but governments have been reluctant to relinquish their hold on such a powerful medium. There have been periodic attempts to reconstitute Doordarshan into a BBC-like public corporation.
. the Constitution lists broadcasting as the sole domain of Parliament. In principle.
In addition. co-opting private programmers to recapture viewers and advertising rupees lost to ZeeTV and StarTV.
But the guidelines established by Parliament to ensure Doordarshan's political neutrality are largely ignored in the face of the majority that ruling parties have held in Parliament. Doordarshan has been subject more to the will of the government than the oversight of Parliament. The government drew its right to operate the country's broadcasting services as a monopoly from the Indian Telegraph Act of 1885 which empowers the government with the exclusive right to "establish. effectively shutting out the states from making any laws with regard to television. Doordarshan is answerable only to Parliament. The government's monopoly over television over the years has resulted in Doordarshan being tightly controlled by successive governments. But the government's monopoly was challenged in the Indian Supreme Court in 1995.
In 1994.Satellite broadcasting has threatened Doordarshan's audiences and self-preservation has spawned a new ideology in the network which is in the process of reinventing itself. weakening its credibility as an neutral participant in the political process.
The Court held that the government monopoly over broadcasting was unconstitutional and while the government has the right to regulate broadcasting in the public interest. which has been the sole preserve of the government. The Supreme Court has provided an opportunity to develop a broad based television system. The Court's decision holds out the promise of significant structural changes in Indian broadcasting and the possibility that terrestrial television may finally free itself from governmental control. educational institutions. Doordarshan continues to struggle to maintain its mandate of public service programming. the Constitution forbids monopoly control over any medium by either individuals or the government. How the country responds to this opportunity in the next few years will determine the future of broadcasting in India in the next century. There are a number of other constituencies like state governments. But the Supreme Court's recent decision ordering the government to establish an independent broadcasting authority to regulate television in the public interest holds the promise of allowing Indian television to escape both the stifling political control of the state and the commercial pressures of the market. the character of its programming will begin to increasingly reflect the demands and pressures of the market place.
In the meantime. non-governmental organizations and social service agencies who can participate in a liberalized broadcast system. Terrestrial broadcasting. provides television coverage to over 90% of India's 900 million people.
The Court directed the government to establish an independent public authority for "controlling and regulating" the use of airwaves. It is evident that over time the State's control over television will continue to diminish. By the end of 1996 nearly 50 million households
FUTURE OF BROADCASTING IN INDIA The Indian television system is one of the most extensive systems in the world. As its revenue structure begins to change and Doordarshan begins to respond to increasing commercial pressures. caught between the government and the market.
In 1995. at the same time cost of advertising is to be compared with the reach enjoyed by the doordarshan. the Channel 3 delay has decided one thing — that it is time for Doordarshan to determine its identity. out of three options. Strategically the DD needs to undergo a policy overhaul. a combination of both. By the end of 1996. i. After the opening of the sector to the private entrepreneur (cable and satellite channels). In terms of quality of programmers. This would not come by simply going to more areas or by allowing bureaucratic set up to continue in the organization. Broadcasters too have realised the great business potential in the market. opportunity to advertise. Indians could view dozens of foreign and local channels and the competition for audiences and advertising revenues was one of the hottest in the world. MORE than any dispute over private producers. So far as its advertisement tariff is concerned that can be made fairly competitive. But for this. The number of viewers may be far more to justify higher tariffs. In the absence of a clearlydefined broadcasting policy.e. introduced in 1991. backed by technology. with the Prasar Bharati Bill apparently
. For far too long the public broadcasting service has taken one step forward and two steps back. The number of channels have increased and also the quality of programmes. the broadcasting has become a popular business. the Indian Supreme Court held that the government's monopoly over broadcasting was unconstitutional. namely privatisation. The government could also think in term of creating a corporation (as it did by creating Prasar Bharti) and provide reasonable autonomy to DD. public service broadcaster or a middle path.had television sets. can choose the third one. has improved. the market has witnessed major changes. policies need to be rationalised and be opened to the scope of innovativeness not only in term of quality of programmes. Nor it would be desirable to hand over the broadcasting emotively in the private hand as it proves to be a great means of communication of many socially oriented public programmers. outreach activities. setting the stage for India to develop into one of the world's largest and most competitive television environments. International satellite broadcasting. DD. However. The whole privatisation is not possible under the diversified political scenario. has swept across the country because of the rapid proliferation of small scale cable systems. For several years Doordarshan was the only broadcaster of television programmes in India.
give something to everyone — may become increasingly difficult to sustain internally and internationally. Though its World Service Radio (which serves 130 million people worldwide) is financed by a grant-in-aidfrom the government. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Doordarshan are public service broadcasters which have to serve wide and varied interests of domestic customers. Apart from financial
. Doordarshan has kept neither its viewers nor its minders happy.
Already. Should government money be spent by a government organization to spread the message of MTV or design a channel to be watched 'not by everyone'? Should Dordarshan behave like the media empire that it is and look outside for specialised talent in the fields of advertising and PR ? Should Doordarshan allow private producers to cover news and pronounce opinions when it has a full-fledged (but also fully-stretched) news bureau? Should Doordarshan advertise when it decides to allot programmes to private producers? The questions are endless. Doordarshan is already earning upwards of Rs 400 crore a year as revenue which goes to the Government. Wotto Service TV has to be commercially viable. it finds itself wrong-footed on this count — just because the Government chooses to exercise its considerable will. In being all things to all people.forever relegated to remote corners of the Cabinet's filing cabinets. It is a public service like electricity. water and transport. there is government pressure on BBC to increase its 1. Doordarshan's autonomy has never been weaker. Merril Lynch has acknowledged the prime importance of satellite TV in changing consumption patterns and social behaviour in India. Given afso that the giant television networks that operate like food plazas — that is.6 billion annual income from licence fees through commercial ventures. Never one to formulate policy before actually taking decisions. But the prime concern should be to evolve a new framework for Doordarshan. Much of the fault lies in the functioning of Doordarshan itself.
management what it needs more is autonomy to be creative and deliver what is its slogan – Satyam. is Beauty and Beauty is Truth. Truth.
. Shivam . Sundaram.