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DD may end up with a dented coffer


Nithya Subramanian

NEW DELHI, Aug. 9

LAST year could have been one of the best for Doordarshan, but the public broadcaster is not set to score a double whammy.

After achieving revenues of Rs 637.51 crore in financial year 2000-01, this year could see revenues dip due to some drastic changes in policy. Officials are not willing to put a number, saying that it is still ``early days.''

Firstly, there were no takers for DD Metro's prime slot and next, a number of top-notch producers have withdrawn from the National channel.

According to top DD officials, the decision to invite fresh programmes from various producers for the prime time slot on its Metro channel could prove to be negative in the short term.

``Last year DD Metro almost doubled its revenues, most of which came as a result of giving the prime times slot to HFCL-Nine Gold. The revenues for this channel was Rs 46 crore in 1999-2000 which went up to Rs 87 crore in 2000-01,'' said DD officials.

However, he said that this would result in loss of revenues in the short term. With the new strategy to call for independent producers, there will be long-term benefits.

Also, a number of producers like Dheeraj Kumar and Sanjay Khan making highly viewed mythological serials like Om Namah Shivay and 1857-Kranti have pulled out of Doordarshan due to change in commissioning norms.

Creative Eye officials said that the programmes attracted high ad rates of over Rs 1 lakh per 10 seconds. But now, the national broadcaster seems to have lost some of its highly viewed programmes.

``DD will not only loose in terms of future revenues but also a number of producers have huge backlogs to pay up. So, it will definitely hit the national broadcaster,'' said industry sources.

Another reason for the increase in revenues last year was the acquisition of cricket rights from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for all the matches in India for the next five years. Also, the international rights have been sold to Strac on for an annual fee.

``DD will earn these revenues and this will be a steady stream of income,'' said officials.

However, DD officials said that broadcaster is looking at building revenues by strengthening its software. The focus will be on acquiring quality content, so that in the long term, viewership loyalty can be built.

Officials also said that DD is first a public broadcaster and whatever revenue it earns is just incidental.

Related links:
Fresh bid for DD Metro slot attracts 3 cos -- Star, Sony stay away again
Prasar Bharati rejects all three bids for DD Metro prime slot

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