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Doordarshan’s plans to sell prime time slots put on hold

The new Indian Minister of Information and Broadcasting, Ms Smriti Irani is not comfortable with the idea of selling Doordarshan prime time to private players.

“The concept was resisted by several top bureaucrats too in the initial stage. However, with the new minister taking charge it was decided to put it on hold and contemplate it further. Many believe that the idea compromises the existence of Doordarshan as a public broadcaster,” a senior bureaucrat said.

The decision to auction programming slots was part of Prasar Bharati’s efforts to revamp the entire Doordarshan network and hence revive the viewership and finances of the organisation. Industry sources, however, hint at other reasons. Sources claim that Irani decided to hold it due to pressure from the production houses that later realised that the project was not worth investing in. “Ad rates on Doordarshan could not match the production cost and the production houses themselves were reluctant to go ahead,” claimed a senior industry person.

Prasar Bharati, which runs Doordarshan and All India Radio in May 2016 had put up 7-11 pm slots on all weekdays on auction, while keeping the 7-8 pm slot on Saturdays for its own content. The broadcaster had conducted two application rounds but none of them materialised due to shortcomings in the applications.