India’s public service broadcaster Prasar Bharati (PB) Tuesday inked an MoU with Germany’s Deutsche Welle (DW) here for beaming Doordarshan programmes to 120 million homes abroad in a Free-to-Air mode.
The MoU was inked at an event at the National Media Centre here. Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar was to preside over the function, but could not make it due to the ongoing parliament session, guests were informed.
The agreement comes after 10 months of negotiations with DW, said PB CEO Jawhar Sircar.
Doordarshan’s overseas India Channel will be broadcast abroad on the DTH platform of Hotbird – 13B satellite, while DW TV channel will be distributed in India on DD Freedish.
The external affairs ministry will clear the final content of the programmes, still in formulation stage. The other ministries on board will be those of culture, overseas Indians, tourism and finance, Sircar said.
The DD channel, to be launched soon, will be beamed in 120 million homes — beginning from Central Asia, then moving to the Middle East, to eastern and to western Europe, moving according to the sun’s rays as it touches the countries, he said.
He said a consultative group under Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh will be formed to formulate the programmes, keeping in mind the sensitivities of the countries where those will be beamed.
Sircar described the India Channel as a “representation of the aspirations of India”.
At present, DD is beaming in 36 countries but the viewership is negligible, he admitted.
The tie-up with DW is expected to give DD’s overseas channel a major boost.
Asked if PB had programmes for the international channel, the CEO said: “we have enough programmes”.
PB will bank on programmes like current affairs and news analysis programmes, besides cultural events and movies and from the archives. The channel will be in Hindi, with English subtitles, and English programmes, the official said.
“We want to become the true voice of India overseas by following the middle path of balanced reporting. It is a learning experience, and with the new government’s blessings, we hope to make Indian presence reach a larger audience globally,” said an official statement.
According to it, Hotbird is the most preferred satellite by European countries because of its polarity. The number of Indian diaspora in the countries it will reach is about 1.5 million.
“The projection of India’s viewpoint to the global audience is necessary and the real challenge is to provide content suitable to the various target audiences in a cost-effective manner,” the statement added.
Earlier too, DD had tried to distribute its international channel in various parts of the world, but made little progress in the last mile distribution due to policies which did not permit large-scale spending on carriage fees, it said.
Private Indian news and entertainment channels are already available to viewers across the world.
The statement said: “the private players will continue to broadcast the programmes with their own viewpoint of India. It all depends on their interest about presenting the picture of India. They are promoting the issues of India from the viewpoint and interest of audiences. PB as a public broadcaster has a very significant role to play and portray the larger face of India”, it said.