In a new avatar!

Maybe an image reconstruction is Doordarshan's best shot at re-engaging the youth in both rural and urban India.


Credits: shutterstock.com

Rishika Menon

India’s oldest channel, Doordarshan is well known for its reach and structure. DD’s brand established over a course of time has made this mega-media entity a staple in many Indian households. Through the years, Doordarshan adapted to changes in the best way possible. Considering the channel’s ability to reach, the quality of the content produced for the channel has to be carefully analysed as if it were under a microscope.

The most obvious and foremost factor we have to consider is the number of people that watch the channel. From a report by the Financial Express in April 2020, we understand that on average 545.8 million people watched the channel through the first phase of the lockdown, thanks to reruns of old shows. Although, with a reach as such, the potential to create a real impact is immense.

Content is king:
To rise to the standards of the acclaimed public broadcaster BBC or channels alike, DD will have to produce content that is educational, useful and entertaining, primarily to cater to a wide audience. Shows that go beyond the purview of soap operas have a good market in the middle-class Indian family. They should include a variety of subjects, from wildlife (infotainment) to farming (educational and informational). India has some of the best wildlife experts, photographers and videographers who have time and again produced wondrous projects that have found a worldwide audience. If this very skill and resource can be used for the benefit of the Indians, the level of awareness about care and concern for the forests will naturally increase, and that will lead to an informed class of people and encourage the preservation of our forests.

In a similar manner, shows about suitable ways of farming, with inputs from experts will be beneficial to the agriculture industry which is the biggest part of our economy. So it can be seen as fit to produce shows that will educate farmers and give them the opportunities to adapt to newer, more efficient and suitable ways of farming. If experts were to get involved in the process of explaining the content without a monotonous tone and in less formal ways, engagement and curiosity will garner large audiences.

The advantage of having a channel run by the government should be seen as beneficial as opposed to the archaic image it possesses now. If the youth of the country would find information that is useful to them, like the discussion on educational policies, leadership, interview skills, jobs, mental health issues, the process of relying on DD as a primary source of reliable information would be organic.

If Doordarshan were to outsource infotainment programmes from some of the best available sources and effectively translate them into regional languages, the spirit of discovery among children and young adults in the rural areas also are likely to increase. If the model changes from what it presently is, to a more accommodating, inclusive one, it will result in a win-win situation.

To firmly establish a presence, Doordarshan needs to break away from the image of being rigid. Progressive change is essential in enabling a future with fewer inequalities in terms of resources to learn and to optimize the utilisation of resources available.

Breaking away from the shackles of rigidity and adapting to present-day requirements of information has to be a thought out process. Information can be streamlined in a number of ways. A podcast, a video channel, a live stream channel and similar mediums to engage an audience are essential because the current form of engagement is social media and its extended branches. Remaining in just one field of the communicative medium today just doesn't cut it anymore. Quite often, people without television sets in their homes, have mobile phones. These mobiles with internet access open a whole new world of information. Hence, it would make sense for DD to be accessible on these mobile-friendly platforms.

Image makeover:
Looking at Doordarshan as a brand and not just a channel will open so many doors. The city dwellers of our country have very little knowledge or engagement with DD. But if there is a witty, informational and reliable page on Instagram and Facebook particularly, it is automatically a part of their lives. Doordarshan also offers internships under Prasar Bharathi, more students ought to know about such opportunities if there was an easy way to communicate with them.

All in all, DD is truly an Indian brand, but it has to begin a process of change to include as many people on as many platforms as possible.

This article was among the best from the class of '21 for their assignment 'Making DD viable and popular'.

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