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‘It is our duty to provide our viewers with good content’

‘It is our duty to provide our viewers with good content’
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With numerous entertainment and news channels coming up, how is Doordarshan strategising to maintain its position in the competition?
We believe that a public service broadcaster has a special relationship with its viewers, it is something which counts a lot amongst the viewers of its country because the variety we have is not something any new channel can command. There is no gainsay in the fact that we have to face competition as far as eyeballs are concerned and in the face of that competition we have to keep strategizing in terms of offering content which is competitive and promote it in a way that gives us the desired revenue. These are the two main prongs of strategy: competitive content and the strategy for promoting them because it's been difficult getting out of the mindset of a monopoly. Now that we have come out of that mindset and realised that we have to face stiff competition, we are trying to get our act together and talk to people. One of the major drawbacks has been that DD was doing things which had a certain dedicated clientèle which continued for a while after the satellite broadcast began and other channels came but slowly people started realising the virtue of surfing channels, everybody likes the idea of freedom to choose, it was at that point of time when we should have repositioned ourselves but it has taken some time.

Doordarshan is the widest channel network in the world, how are you planning to improve its viewership?
There are two things, as far as the national channels are concerned which is our DD National, DD News, DD Bharti, DD Sports and DD Urdu, as far as these channels are concerned we are banking specifically on the kind of content that we offer. Apart from that some of the very unique nature of our channels gets us a special place in the heart of our viewers, for example DD Urdu, it is the number one channel in the country today because over the years we have realised that if we offer good content then we can get a loyal viewership. Similarly, for DD National, offering good content is one part of the thing but offering good content by itself does not suffice, we also have to let the world know about the content which we are offering. How does a viewer decide what to watch? He is faced with a pathology of excessive choice so, unless he sees something about the show in the morning in a print ad or any other social media, it won't attract his attention. One has to resort to various strategies, social media is one of them, we are trying to reach across to our viewers through every means possible. Retaining and increasing our viewership is our main agenda right now. You wouldn't have ever seen  the advertising of a DD show on a hoarding before, we placed the first hoarding advertisement two year's back in Mumbai, Chandraprakash Diwedi's
Upanishad Ganga
and there has been no looking back ever since.

Can you tell us about the recent DD initiative called The Best of Indian Cinema?
Best of Indian Cinema has been brought into Doordarshan with two objectives, one with the   objective that is that there is a dirth of support for good independent cinema in India and I think as public service broadcasters it is a part of our duty to support good independent cinema in the country. What typically happens is that these independent film-makers make their films on fairly modest budget but  for the lack of support in the distribution system they don't reach far whereas in terms of recognition their film travel to some of the illustrious festivals, they even get national awards and such. So the idea is that if they are brought on to the DD platform, then the film-maker gets a platform which enables his cinema to be exposed to a wider audience and he gets a financial support. The other objective is that this has been a part of our overall public service broadcast mandate to bring to our viewers a quality entertainment. So, the
Best of Indian Cinema
flows from the understanding that it is not just popular or mainstream cinema which can be entertaining.

What are the new innovative programmes you are coming up with?
We have launched two very important programmes recently, one was launched on Women's Day called Main Kucch Bhi Kar Sakti Hoon, this is a serial directed by Firoz Abbas Khan, he is a very reputed film-maker, this is the first time he is doing work for television. The theme centrally runs around very important issues like the practise of sex-determination for children, reproductive health, child-marriage and other such practises within our society and how we can counter them.  The other programme is a serial based on Rabindranath Tagore's famous story called Nauka Doobi.
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