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Doordarshan to launch ‘BBC-like’ channel to “tell the India Story to a global audience”

At a moment when the Indian government has been suffering harsh blame in the international media, the national public broadcaster Prasar Bharati has drifted a tender for an expert to proceed up with a proposal to start a channel with an international audience. According to Prasar Bharati officials, the tender is not an involuntary impulse and the idea has subsisted for a long time.

The call for Expression of Interest was drifted on May 13 for a consultancy service to arrive up with a comprehensive project report “on the establishment of DD International. In view of the strategic objective to create a global presence for Doordarshan and to build an international voice for India, it is envisaged to establish DD International”. Moreover, it said that the EOI “is being published for a Detailed Project Report (DPR) from reputed global consultants with exposure in advising international broadcasters/media houses on projects of this nature”.

According to the tender, the aim is to “project India’s point of view globally on contemporary issues of both global and domestic significance” and to “tell the India Story to a global audience”. It also proposes DD International to be the “authoritative global media source on India through reliable, exhaustive and reliable global news service”.From the tender, it seems that Prasar Bharati aims to establish up bureaus “across the globe” and the specialist will have to recognize locations, draft a roadmap, and also arrive up with strategies for “24×7 world service streams” and “prioritizing geography-specific streams”. Prasar Bharati also requires a strategic roadmap for “a Global News Service based on DD India content”.

The tender arrives at a moment the government has reached under fire for its administration of the second surge of the Covid-19 pandemic and its vaccine strategy in the international press. India has also not managed well on many international indices, including free communication. Prasar Bharati CEO Shashi Shekhar Vempati told that the Prasar Bharati board gave its consent for the project in March. He had tweeted on March 25, “thanking” the board, “for several key decisions” including, a “key initiative approved by the Board today” to “develop a project blueprint for Doordarshan International”.

Nevertheless, many pivotal positions are empty at the Prasar Bharati board, including those of a chairman, Member Finance, and Member Personnel. But Vempati said the vacancies would not have an impact as “tenders of this nature are operational matters”.“The plan is to get a strategy roadmap in six to eight months,” he said, but “due to the uncertainty arising from the pandemic,” it will be paused by a few weeks or months. The idea, he said, has endured for a while, and “finally we have the blessings of everyone”. He said what will be the accurate form of the channel and what it will cost, “that has to evolve out of the strategy exercise” and “once we have the input, then we will tell the govt about funding” and other features.

“This is something that was something long overdue, to have an international presence for Doordarshan,” he said, resembling it to the “first redundancy of BBC or Al Jazeera”. Vempati said that “at this point, it will be more news-oriented, like BBC World Service” but it can later “evolve” because a lot of global attention in India is cultural.

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Though, an executive who has been connected with the project in different potentials for almost a decade stated that the idea has subsisted for over 10 years, and “every time there is a change in the leadership at Prasar Bharati, there is some action”. The official said when Doordarshan India was made an English channel, it was discussed that it would be “made into an international channel”. But explaining just the English iteration of Doordarshan News, led to “duplication” of content.


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