New Delhi: Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati more than doubled its operational losses in the year ended 31 March, following a major drop in advertising revenues of Doordarshan. The broadcaster recorded an operational loss of nearly 400 crore in 2015-16 compared to 200 crore in 2014-15.

Prasar Bharati, which owns Doordarshan and All India Radio, saw its ad revenue decline by 309 crore, from 1,301 crore in 2014-15 to 992 crore in 2015-16. To be sure, the accumulated losses of the broadcaster came down to 2,108 crore from 11,449 crore in 2014-2015 because a 9,000 crore loan was converted into grant-in-aid in 2015-16.

“The ad revenue of Doordarshan has seen a sharp drop, while All India Radio has been able to achieve its yearly targets," said a Doordarshan official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The ad revenue includes revenues from both corporate and government advertisements. The official said that revenue from both corporate and government ads saw a decline this year. “The actual cash crunch situation is much bigger in the organization. By November, it will be precarious. There will be a cash negative situation," he added.

Ashish Bhasin, chairman and chief executive, Dentsu Aegis Network South Asia, attributed the decline in DD’s ad revenue to lack of marketing and customer orientation. “Doordarshan has not been able to monetize on its inherent strength of reach and distribution. It is a pity that the most extraordinary way of reaching the masses is being virtually wasted because of the attitude which is not business friendly," he said.

To arrest the decline in ad revenue, Prasar Bharati is planning to set up a professional marketing division in Doordarshan. The broadcaster plans to bring in full-time industry experts to look into the marketing strategies of the organization and give a roadmap to Doordarshan.

Suresh Chandra Panda, member (personnel) at Prasar Bharati, confirmed the development, saying that the broadcaster is looking to hire marketing professionals. “It is a board-approved policy. We will hire marketing professionals as we don’t have any government appointed people exclusively working on marketing," he said. “These people will help in improving the ad revenues," Panda added.

Until now, Prasar Bharati was working closely with external agencies and consultancy firms for marketing solutions pertaining to programming quality, structure and television ratings. “These firms had submitted guidelines on improving the current strategies, but no division of Prasar Bharati followed the guidelines," said an official on the condition of anonymity. The broadcaster is planning to complete the process of hiring marketing professionals by the end of August 2016.

To be sure, the plan to set up a marketing department is not new. The Prasar Bharati board has, time and again, considered setting up its own marketing team but hasn’t been able to implement its plan so far. “After this loss, the broadcaster is determined to set up a separate division that will cater to the marketing needs of the organization," the official said.

In 2015-16, Prasar Bharati received grants worth 2,734 crore from the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry. For 2016-17, the government has raised the grants-in-aid to 3,108 crore, according to the annual report of I&B ministry.