TV Tower Mysore, view from Chamundi hillsCreativeCommons/RameshNG

Public Service Broadcaster Prasar Bharati is reportedly planning to revamp its constituent national channel Doordarshan (DD) by September-end to improve the quality of its content and programming. The move is being seen as an attempt to get more eyeballs.

During a board meeting held on May 16, the Prasar Bharati board decided to auction the 7-11 p.m. slots (also known as the prime-time slots) on DD National, Mint reports. In addition, the DD channel will also outsource some entertainment programmes to other production houses through auctioning.

"We decided to introduce fresh programming to get eyeballs back. Prasar Bharati needs to improve viewership to get up there among the general entertainment channels and to compete with private channels. This auction is an experiment for DD National and, if it is successful, Prasar Bharti will auction slots for other channels of the Doordarshan network as well," A Surya Prakash, chairperson of Prasar Bharati, was quoted as saying by the publication.

Financing a key factor

Doordarshan follows a policy of self-financing commissions, where it buys programmes from producers and recovers the cost from revenues generated from advertisements. According to Prakash, the way programmes are financed on DD National is a major factor affecting the quality of programming.

"We feel that we are not getting the quality we want. This is one of the major reasons we have invited big players in television production to bid for these slots. We plan to roll out the new programming on Oct. 1, 2016," Prakash was quoted as saying by Mint.

Prasar Bharti has a "slot-sale policy" and has laid out conditions to be followed by bidders. Prakash expects good growth in terms of content quality on DD so it will be as good as private-run channels.

Prakash told Mint Rs. 4,086.63 crore had been allocated to the Prasar Bharti in the current financial year, as opposed to Rs. 4, 200 crore in the last financial year, of which Rs. 2,200 crore came from the government and the rest was financed internally, Mint added.

According to rating agency Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), which measures television viewership, DD National failed to make it to the list of the top 10 most watched programmes list for the week ended May 13.

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