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DD to go global on mobile

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Apr 5: Doordarshan today launched an SMS-based news service and said it would give the latest stock prices on mobile phones in a fortnight from now.

A month later, video clippings of news will also be available on mobile phones. Mobile phone users will have to dial 676733 to get the latest news from around world.

Doordarshan, which already has an interactive voice response (IVR)-based news service, become the first service provider to have both SMS and IVR-based service on the same short code (676733).

By April-end, three prime DD channels -- Doordarshan India, Doordarshan Bharati and DD News -- will be available on 3G mobile phone all over the world.

Also, from May 27 the Indian diaspora in the United States will be able to watch Doordarshan India. The channel is a favourite among the Indian immigrants in Canada. Doordarshan will earn 3 million dollars through the channel.

Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati, which has posted a record net revenue of nearly Rs 1,200 crore in 2005-06, also plans to increase its Direct-to-Home (DTH) coverage to 51 channels, including 32 private channels from next month.

''The target is 100 DTH channels by the end of this year'' said Prasar Bharati CEO K S Sarma.

Doordarshan has fixed a Rs one crore fee for private channels to find place in the DD Direct Plus DTH platform, which currently beams 33 channels. As many as 68 channels have shown interest in the DD Direct Plus, which claims a viewership of 50 million, 80 per cent of them in the rural areas.

Every language in the country is to get its own 24-hour news channel on All India Radio (AIR) by the end of this year when AIR will beam 50 channels.

These major initiatives were announced by Mr Sarma at the Prasar Bharati's annual press meet.

The Prasar Bharati CEO said the new initiatives have become possible with the substantial increase in the revenue of the public service broadcaster. Of the nearly Rs 1,200 crore earned in 2005-06, the share of Doordarshan was Rs 960 crore and that of AIR, Rs 270 crore. One of the reasons for the record revenue is the decision to stop selling Doordarshan's air time to others and instead going for self-financed programmes.

Ninety per cent of the prime time now goes to self-financed programmes, said Mr Sarma. Under the earlier set-up, the marketing agencies were cornering the revenue, he added.

Another reason in the change in the policy on screening of films on DD. Showing new blockbuster films have earned more viewership and revenue for Doordarshan.

Earnings from AIR have also gone up. Daily audience for the 230 AIR stations in the country is now 300-400 million and the figures goes up to 500 million when there is a cricket match.

The AIR station in Bangalore today earns more than any private radio station, said AIR Director General Brijeshwar Singh.

Mr Sarma admitted that Doordarshan was not able to compete with private news channels in speed and other sectors because of lack of resources.

News gathering was not as fast as that of the private channels, he said, adding speed and content need to be improved.

''DD News has become a training platform for private news channels,'' said Mr Sarma referring to poaching of DD staff by private channels.

On cable operators's continued defiance to the directive to carry Doordarshan channels compusorily, he said the laws need to be strengthened.

He, however, said after the introduction of CAS and digitisation, this problem will be automatically solved.

Original programmes for children are also on anvil on Doordarshan from next year, said Doordarshan Director General Naveen Kumar.


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