New Delhi: The information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry is evaluating a news content sharing partnership between state broadcasters Doordarshan and All India Radio in a bid to realign infrastructure and staff at both entities, two people familiar with the development said.
Public broadcaster Prasar Bharati runs both Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR). While Doordarshan has a dedicated bilingual news channel, DD News, AIR airs news bulletins through 420 radio stations across the country.
Private FM radio channels are not authorized to air news content and can only carry AIR news bulletins in exactly the same format.
“Both entities have independent news divisions. The ministry is evaluating a plan to exploit the resources in a better way. Moreover, the manpower and infrastructure of both the organisations need to be realigned to widen the reach of public broadcasters and hence, avoid duplication," said one of the two people cited above, requesting anonymity.
The I&B ministry and Prasar Bharati did not respond to e-mailed queries seeking comment.
This move comes as a part of an overall revamp of Prasar Bharati to revive the finances and widen the reach of the broadcaster. At present, the broadcaster is in the process of hiring a private firm to do a staffing audit.
Meanwhile, Prasar Bharati is also converting its socio-cultural channel DD India into a global English-language news channel and its current bilingual channel DD News into a full-fledged Hindi news channel that will compete with private Hindi news channels.
A former board member of Prasar Bharati explained that it makes sense to consolidate the operations of both the organisations as it will help the broadcaster in reducing costs. “News gathering costs will definitely go down but there may be internal resistance as this consolidation or partnership will lead to a loss of jobs at both the organisations. Secondly, Prasar Bharati needs to improve the overall news gathering service. Over the years, it has lost its edge to other players in the industry," said this person, declining to be named.
For the year ended 31 March, Doordarshan recorded net revenue of ₹ 27.51 crore, surpassing its annual target of ₹ 00 crore. The broadcaster had earned ₹ 755 crore in 2015-16. MAll India Radio earned ₹ 55 crore in annual revenue for the year 2016-17, up from ₹ 47 crore in 2015-16.