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    Feb 2010


    Default Gora (the show) is only a beginning. DD has a lot more in store: Tripurari Sharan Director General..

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    We have often complained about the lack of entertaining content on Doodarshan. But all that is now changing, according to Doordarshan Director General Tripurari Sharan. He was speaking to the press at the recent launch of DDís new show Gora.

    Read on to find what he said regarding the public broadcaster vs private channels and ratings.

    Tell us about the idea of Gora?

    We feel that times are finally changing in the Indian television scene. People have had enough of saas bahu stuff and are now looking for something more socially relevant. Gora is the first major step of Doordarshanís new approach to meet the above change.

    This 26 episode of Gargi Sen Production is based on Rabindranath Tagoreís famous novel of the same name. It attempts to look at social divisions which still prevail in our society. What is important to note here is, what Gurudev said then (1907-1909), is even relevant today. However the narrative is not preachy as we have related the story through the eyes of four youngsters.

    Where do you see Doordarshan as compared to private channels say Zee TV or Star Plus?

    You really canít compare our network reach to any private channel. Collectively, we have 11 channels (DD National, DD News, DD Sports and DD Bharati among others) and 18 regional kendras. Our combined footprint (terrestrial and satellite) virtually covers all corners of our vast nation (isolated pockets of Jammu Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and North East as well).

    But you donít make enough entertaining programmes as others do?

    India is not just about Mumbai and Delhi. As a public service broadcaster, it is our responsibility to inform the people living in villages about the social welfare initiatives that the government launches from time to time. Honesty, tell me would any private channel make content on public health and hygiene? Also would any of them also make something like Gora which goes beyond just entertainment and address the underlying social tensions as well? It is very easy to lambast government policies, you should be liberal nature to understand its finer points and working style.

    Despite such a reach, your numbers (in terms of TRPs) also donít rock?

    As for TAM ratings, we all know that NDTV has already complained about its authenticity. Sadly, this step motherly attitude towards the pubcaster also extends towards the distribution platforms as well (DTH). Once pan-India digitization kicks off, the real numbers of all broadcasters will come out in the open. We will see then. Even now, some of our shows do rate in the top 15 list as well.

    What next?

    Like I said earlier, Gora is only the beginning. We have a lot more in store, you have to just wait and watch. We are in talks with the makers of Nukkad (super hit DD show of yesteryears) and something more interesting. Our officials are even in touch with Balaji Telefilms about making content for us as they were doing earlier. Jeetendraji has agreed to look into the matter.

    Till now, we never really marketed our self aggressively and have paid a price for the same. But all that has changed with the slotting of Upanishad Ganga that opened in the Sunday morning slot. For the first time one saw hoardings of a DD show. There were also full page advertisements in a national daily; this never happened in the history of DD. I am sure that you must have seen similar hoardings of Gora as well. We also never addressed the media directly. With this show we have now started doing so. I assure you that we will continue to have a dialogue with the press so that the public comes to know of our upcoming content through your writings.

    It is often said that the content that Doordarshan dishes out is not at par with what we watch on private networks?

    There is not much difference between our content and private channels. But yes, they are better than us in production values. Our reality shows (Bharat Ki Shaan: Singing Star) are also as good as any other reality show, but I must admit that we canít match the marketing spends of Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa (Colors) which plasters the entire city with billboards and hoardings.

    There was some criticism regarding the way DD commissioned its shows over the years. Comment?

    First we would sell slots where the producer would pay us license fee and we, on our part, would give him Free Commercial Time (FCT) for him to earn revenue. But, that boomeranged because we got lost in latitude and the decision making process. A lot of wrong producers also entered the fray and we have a huge outstanding of Rs 800 crore showing in our balance sheet. For financial reasons, we also canít commission all shows in-house. Therefore we have now come up with a self-financing commission method. Here too, I must admit that there are certain problems for it can be linked to procuring government contracts. But we are making all necessary efforts to streamline the process.



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