Being the most attractive and effective mass media, it is an accepted fact that television can play an important role in socio-economic development of the people. Doordarshan being the sole public service television broadcaster has been playing a leading role in the socio-economic development of the country since its beginning in 1959.
At present when about 300 TV channels are beaming programmes from within and outside the country and are competing for attracting more and viewers by adopting all sorts of methods, the responsibility of Doordarshan in providing healthy media support to socio-economic development of the country has gained more importance.
Presently Doordarshan has 30 channels and a DTH service. These channels include: Five national channels (DD1 National, DD News, DD Sports, DD Bharati, DD Urdu), 11 regional language satellite channels (DD Bangla, DD Oriya, DD Saptagiri, DD Podhigai, DD Chandana, DD Malayalam, DD Sahyadri, DD Gujarati, DD Punjabi, DD Kashir, DD North-East), 1111 regional service state network (Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttrakhand, Mizoram, Tripura), one international channel (DD India), DD Rajya Sabha, DD Gyandarshan and a DTH service (DD Direct Plus).
Two of these channels viz. DD1 National and DD News are in both terrestrial and satellite modes. Besides this, there are regional networks and regional language satellite channels which have terrestrial support. The rest three channels namely DD Sports, DD Bharati and DD India are satellite channels telecasting in satellite mode only.
Present terrestrial coverage of Doordarshan is 79.1 per cent area and 91.4 per cent population of the country. In the bouquet of Doordarshan DTH service (DD Direct Plus) there are 36 TV channels and 20 Radio channels and it is a free to air service.
In order to provide backup to programme production as well as telecast Doordarshan has 64 Doordarshan Kendras/Studios, 126 Maintenance Centers, 1399 Transmitters of various categories and 24 Regional News Units all over the country, besides two Central Production Centers – one at Delhi and another at Guwahati.
According to Indian Readership Survey TV Report 2006 (Round 2) there are 212.7 mn. TV homes in the country. About 56 per cent TV homes in the country have cable connections. The corresponding percentage in urban and rural areas is 70 and 42 respectively. Doordarshan is trying to reach those TV homes having no cable & satellite connection, through its DTH service ‘DD Direct Plus’.
From the very beginning Doordarshan has earmarked a sizable chunk of its time for telecasting various programmes to provide media support to socio-economic development activities of the country. Agriculture programme, programmes for rural development, women, children, family welfare, adult education, youth, civic sense and public awareness, science & technology, special programmes during natural calamities like flood, earth quake, epidemics etc. are some of important programmes for socio-economic development of the country. DD News channel provides news and current affairs programmes on the development taking place in different parts of the country and in various fields.
In order to manage these development programmes more efficiently Doordarshan has created two separate wings namely Development Communication Division, and Narrowcasting. Development Communication Division concentrates on health and sanitation and other development issues; while Narrowcasting deals with agriculture and allied subjects.
Development Communication Division (DCD) was established in Doordarshan in March 2001 to cater to the communication needs of various Ministries/Departments and Public Sector Undertakings of the Government. DCD functions as a single window marketing division and a production house for Government Ministries and Public Sector Undertakings. It offers total turnkey solutions covering all aspects of media planning, software production, scheduling and impact evaluation. It provides production facilities, consultancy and customized media plan, produces programmes in countrywide stations in regional languages and provides feedbacks and research to the clients. Within a short span of its inception, DCD has succeeded in revitalizing in-house production activities within Doordarshan. It specializes in bi-media campaigns, involving both Doordarshan and AIR and thus ensuring a balanced media exposure for the social/public interest campaigns of client ministries/departments.
The programmes produced by DCD have contributed immensely in creating awareness amongst people on various socially relevant issues. ‘Kalyani’ the longest health communication campaign of India since 2002, is a brilliant example of such programming that demonstrates the power and potential of the public service broadcaster. The programme ‘Kalyani’ has created public awareness about various diseases like cholera, diarrhea, tuberculosis, malaria, iodine deficiency, HIV AIDS, health and sanitation, harmful effect of tobacco/smoking, mother and childcare etc. ‘Kalyani’ has been awarded: UNAIDS Civil Society Award on World Day 2006, Broadcasting Engineering Society of India Award for best public service programme of 2006, Radio and TV Advertising Practitioner’s Association Award in 2005, nomination for ROSE D’Or Award of Switzerland, and GATES Malaria Award in Commonwealth Broadcasting Award 2004.
‘Grameen Bharat’ (on rural development), ‘Bhoomi’ (on environment), ‘Janjatiya Darpan’ (on tribal affairs), ‘Khel Khel Mein Badalo Duniya, (on petroleum conservation), ‘Jaljivan’ (on water conservation), ‘Paisa Hamara Phaisala Aapka’ (on financial matter), ‘Aatmaja’ (on female infanticide), Aparijita’ (girl child), ‘Jago Grahak Jago’ (on consumer’s affairs), programme on Integrated Insurance Regularity and Development Authority of India (IRDA) etc. are some of other programmes produced by DCD on development issues.
‘Kalyani’ and another initiative of DCD on HIV AIDS awareness – Detective series ‘Jasoos Vijay’– were presented to UN Secretary General at launch of Global Media AIDS Initiatives in January 2004 and to the Prime Minister of India at HIV AIDS National Media Summit in January 2005.
With a view to cater to area-specific information ‘Narrowcasting’ was started by Doordarshan in 2000 covering 12 low power transmitters where the programme of local genre was telecast once or twice a week on experimental basis. On the success of this experiment the agriculture programme on this concept funded by the Ministry of Agriculture was started in 12 PGF centers in 2004. Following the successful implementation of this project a demand was created for further spreading of this concept in narrowcasting in other parts of the country.
The programmes are formulated by the experts of Agriculture, Horticulture, Veterinary Sciences, Fisheries etc. and all aspects of Agriculture, Horticulture, Veterinary Science, Fisheries etc are covered on day-to-day basis, highlighting the different technology of each crop, various schemes, success stories of farmers, weather, market prices etc.
In addition to agriculture programme under narrowcasting, Doordarshan telecasts its own agriculture programme from its regional kendras all over the country in regional languages/dialects almost on daily basis.
Evaluative/impact study on these development programmes especially on the programmes of DCD and Narrowcasting is conducted on regular basis to ascertain the programme impact and make it more effective and useful.
The study conducted shows that the programmes are not only watched regularly by the target audience, but also they find the programme very useful in their activities and demand more and more new information in all aspects of these activities.
In short, Doordarshan allots a sizable chunk of its telecast time for development programmes and makes all efforts to make the programme need based, effective and useful for the audience. Thus, Doordarshan plays an important role in the socio-economic development of country and people and in this respect it has a difference from all other private channels operating in the country.
*Inputs from Ministry of Information & Broadcasting